Volin said the NFL’s franchise tag should be around $15 million this spring. In essence, the Patriots will get the third-round pick one year earlier, the Browns’ choice in 2017. Had they let Collins walk via free agency after this season, they would have received a compensatory pick in 2018.
Teams can only apply the franchise tag to one pending free agent, and Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower’s contract also is up after this season. As MMQB’s Albert Breer notes, New England officials could be trying to get in front of that situation.
Michael Lombardi of Fox Sports notes that the Patriots might actually be happy to be rid of Collins.
Collins’s teammates might not be on the same page, however.
The Patriots actually began getting in front of their looming defensive personnel issues this past offseason, trading pass-rushing standout Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick. Like Collins, Jones’s rookie contract was up after this season. With both Jones and Collins now gone, it looks as if re-signing Hightower could be the Patriots’ top offseason priority.
Monday’s move shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, considering New England Coach Bill Belichick’s penchant for trading away productive players while they still have trade value. But does Belichick’s itchy trigger finger hurt his team? Former Patriot Ty Law thinks so.
“I think it has cost them championships. I think they let go of too many guys who can rally the troops and win Super Bowls,” Law said in 2014., though it should be noted that Belichick cut Law in a salary-cap move in 2005.
As for Collins, he now goes from the league’s best team to by far its worst, one that seems to be on a collision course with 0-16: