Detroit deactivated the veteran linebacker for its Week 3 game, doing so after Dan Campbell indicated the team was shopping him. Collins will become an interesting in-season free agent, being just two years removed from a standout season in his second Patriots stint — one that led the Lions to sign him to a three-year, $30M deal in free agency.
The Lions’ previous regime authorized that pact, and Collins quickly fell out of favor with the Campbell-Brad Holmes power structure. The Lions stand to take on more than $11M in dead money as a result of this transaction. Since the trade deadline has not yet passed, Collins, 32 in October, is free to sign with any team. Although Collins restructuring his contract seemingly made him a more attractive trade piece, as his 2021 base salary dropped to $3.8M, he will likely end up with a less lucrative deal elsewhere.
This marks the second time a team has cut Collins, with the Browns doing so in 2019. The Lions went down a similar path with the longtime starter, signing him to an eight-figure-per-year contract — although, Collins’ Detroit pact did not quite match his then-linebacker-record Cleveland deal from 2017 (four years, $50M) — before cutting bait. The Patriots, who drafted Collins in the 2012 second round, signed him to a one-year, incentive-laden deal in 2019.
Used as a hybrid player in New England, Collins made the Pro Bowl in 2015 — when he registered 5.5 sacks and forced an NFL-high five fumbles — and the Southern Miss product delivered a seven-sack season in 2019. He made 101 tackles with the Lions last year. Through two games this season, Pro Football Focus rated Collins as a top-25 off-ball ‘backer.