Lions exploring trade options for linebacker Jamie Collins
Allen Park — After popping up on the practice report as a non-participant for non-injury reasons Wednesday afternoon, the Detroit Lions are exploring trade options for veteran linebacker Jamie Collins, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Collins, a holdover acquisition from the previous regime, is coming off a disappointing performance that netted criticism from coach Dan Campbell earlier in the week.
"Jamie, look, Jamie had some mistakes," Campbell said. "It wasn’t, certainly, his best performance and, yeah, I think (Derrick) Barnes deserves a shot.”
Barnes, a fourth-round rookie out of Purdue, didn't play any defensive snaps in Monday's loss to Green Bay and had just five in the season-opener against San Francisco when Collins was forced to the sideline late in the game by an ankle injury.
The performances of both Collins and Alex Anzalone drew frustration from the fan base during Monday's loss, but Campbell defended Anzalone's performance, particularly his effort, when contrasted against Collins.
“Look, Jamie is a big linebacker," Campbell said. "He’s a very athletic linebacker. The way he moves is a little bit different. Now, does he move with the same effort or have the same effort as Alex? No, I don’t. I think Alex just plays at a high level all of the time. That’s him. That’s how it goes. Jamie, there are things that Jamie does well that we still have to continue to use. He’s still a mismatch on third down, particularly in the rush game and we’ll see where this goes.”
The Lions signed Collins to a three-year, $30 million contract ahead of the 2020 season. His experience and success in former coach Matt Patricia's defensive scheme was a selling point and he went on to lead the team with 101 tackles to go along with three forced fumbles and an interception.
This offseason, Collins agreed to a contract restructuring that added three voidable years to the deal, lowering his base salary by $5 million and his cap hit by $2.5 million. Scheduled to have a $13.3 million cap hit in 2023, and offering the team a potential $7 million in cap savings if he's moved, he was almost certain to be off the roster at season's end, regardless.
If the Lions are able to find a trading partner, it's unlikely the soon-to-be, 32-year-old Collins brings back more than a late-round pick. Still, it's something instead of nothing and clears a path for Barnes to get a full workload.
Lions defensive lineman Michael Brockers, brought to Detroit in an offseason trade, in part to help instill the new coaching staff's culture, said he doesn't have the time to think about Collins potentially getting dealt.
"For me, as a player, that's a bit above my pay grade," Brockers said. "I'm coming in, coaching up my guys, the D-linemen, and just trying to move forward. We can't control what's out of our control. That's not our job to worry about things like that. We have the Ravens coming up this Sunday, so that's the only thing I'm worried about."
The Lions still would be on the hook for more than $10 million in dead money on Collins' contract if he ends up being traded or released in the coming days, which they could fully absorb this year or split between this year and next.