On Monday, many of us looked at our phones in shock to see that Pro-Bowl LB Jamie Collins got traded to the winless Cleveland Browns. The Browns traded a 3rd round pick to the New England Patriots. This deal is very reminiscent of the Chandler Jones trade in the offseason.
The hybrid LB has seen fewer snaps in 2016 compared to his emerging 2014 and stellar 2015 seasons due to the emergence of rookie Elandon Roberts from the University of Houston. The Patriots also let Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner go in the same offseason with confidence that Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan would emerge, and that worked out despite their lack of depth at CB.
Jamie Collins would’ve been one of a plethora of Patriots free agents on defense that include LB Donta Hightower, CBs Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler, S Duron Harmon, DE Jabaal Sheard, LB Barkevious Mingo. You can also look at the other side of the ball with OT Nate Solder, and TE Martellus Bennett is also going to be those to try to take care of also.
Before the 2016 season, I would’ve seen this as completely crazy. But now that I’ve had the chance to evaluate how the Patriots have always done things and their track record is incredibly consistent. Never mind the fact that Collins was reportedly (since denied by him) to be the guy asking for Von Miller money (Upwards to $50 million to $60 million guaranteed).
Michael Lombardi of Fox Sports and was always critical of Jaime Collins, even when he was working with the Patriots front office. Lombardi had worked with Bill Belichick for six years in Cleveland on his front office staff.
“This is about football,” he said. “This is about watching the player. Grade the player. People have a perception. You’re arguing based on perception. If you studied the game tape and you understood the defense, and you understood everything that’s going on, you would understand this is a football decision. . . . Jamie Collins, I’ve said this to this kid before when I was there. . . . When he wants to play and he’s really into it, he can be a very good player. Now, is there something going on in his life that I don’t know about? But through eight games as a Patriot this season he had not been playing at a level that’s acceptable to winning and beating good teams. The conversation we’re having isn’t about beating Landry Jones and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s about beating Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a championship game,” said Lombardi on WEEI Boston Tuesday morning.
When we look at what Lombardi said, it sounds like the Chandler Jones deal all over again. Collins has always been his individual in the locker room and also doesn’t LOVE watching football. Like Chandler Jones, Collins just wasn’t a fit into what the Patriots wanted to give him a second contract like they have with Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, and what the team will do with Donta Hightower and Malcolm Butler. A coach like Belichick likes players who do what they tell him to do; it’s that simple…
Collins’s comments today at his press conference welcoming him to the Browns was a little telling of what he thinks of the Patriots since the trade.
“I ain’t got no problems with coming here and doing what I got to do. I’m a player and I’m a grown man. I know my job and that’s to do what I got to do. I’m going to come in here and do what’s best for the team. That’s what I always do. This ain’t my first rodeo. Coming out of college, I was 0-12 and they still took me. I’m good in this position. I’m good. Trust me,’’ said Collins to the media today.
Bill Belichick had more to say than usual on the topic over the last forty-eight hours. It’s interesting that even some “In Bill We Trust” folks have their questions about this deal and what Bill accomplished. This deal could end up being the equivalent of the Kendrick Perkins deal the Celtics made in 2011; that’s only if they were to lose in the playoffs.
“I’m sure a lot of you don’t want to take into consideration other moves that are made on the roster, but they affect everybody. It might be a guy who isn’t a big guy on your radar. But to a roommate or to a teammate who is very close to him, it is a big move to him. So I recognize that. I understand that. I appreciate that. But again, in the end, my responsibility is to the football team. It’s not to an individual player. So I make the decision that I make based on what I feel like is best for the team. It’s not a personal decision. It’s a team decision. If it was a personal decision, there’d be a lot of decisions that were different. I just don’t think that’s my job,” said Belichick on why the trade of Jamie Collins happened now.
The Patriots have clearly participated in a smear campaign as he walked out and this notion was cosigned by Bill Belichick himself today as well.
“Mike is one of the smartest people that I know. He is one of the smartest people I’ve worked with, and he was a huge asset to me for the two years that he was here. So Mike is a smart guy, and he studies football and he knows it very well, I would say on probably all teams,” Belichick said to the media today!
He not only backed up his long-time buddy Mike Lombardi’s comments about Collins but also continued to tell the Boston media his role with the team and how he evaluates each situation. Lombardi was an advisor for the team after he was fired in Cleveland and replaced by Ray Farmer. Lombardi is the closest contact anyone in the media could ever have to the “man in the hoodie” reigning in Foxboro, MA.
“My obligation is to all the players, not just to a single individual. I know you want to focus on the bigger names, if you will, which is fine. I understand that. But all the players on the team are important to me. They’re important to their teammates. They’re important not the organization. Anything that affects any individual on the team is important, not just to three or four that we want to single out because of whatever their star power is. I’m not minimizing that, but things affect all players on the team, not just a few names that are mentioned.” Belichick said to the Boston media.
Whether or not it’s a “smear campaign” or not, Robert Kraft can’t be too pleased with this from a PR standpoint. There’s already smug that people claim in Foxboro, and this won’t help that perception. The counter of all that would be to say that this isn’t the first major contributor to the team that has departed the team, and it won’t be the last.