One day you’re in the penthouse, the next day you’re in the outhouse. In the context of the NFL power structure, that’s exactly what happened to linebacker Jamie Collins yesterday, when he was traded from the Patriots to NFL-Siberia in Cleveland.
The news was shocking when it was announced, because Collins was a key contributor on the Patriot defense, and led the team in tackles last year.
At first glance, it appears to be a good move for the Browns, who acquire a high-end NFL linebacker in exchange for a 3rd round pick. They inherit the impending responsibility of figuring out Collins’ long term contract situation, but immediately upgrade a terrible defense with a talented linebacker, who has gas left in the tank at 27.
From the Patriots side of the equation, it serves a dual purpose. The Patriots receive a 3rd round pick from Cleveland, rather than waiting to receive a compensatory pick if he left in free agency. It also allows Bill Belichick to send a message that he’s not happy with the current state of the Patriot’s defense, even if they are 7-1. It also serves as a reminder of who’s in charge.
According to multiple reports, Collins had not been executing in alliance with “The Patriot Way,” a cardinal sin under Belichick.
Yesterday in The Herd, former Patriot’s executive Michael Lombardi noted that Collins recent play, combined with his upcoming free agency, made him the perfect vehicle for Belichick’s message. No one is off limits.
“To me, this is all about sending a message to the rest of the guys in the locker room. About, ‘I’m not tolerating this bad a defense.’ You can’t keep going this way.”
Collins is likely in line for a big payday with the Browns, but the transaction is the perfect illustration of how little leverage or power NFL players wield, compared to players in other sports.
If you don’t like it, here’s your ticket to Cleveland. Enjoy.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) October 31, 2016