Back in early March, our Craig Stout made his case for what he called a “luxury Sam linebacker” for the Kansas City Chiefs under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: Cleveland Browns free-agent linebacker Jamie Collins.
Collins checks all the boxes for a 4-3 Under Sam linebacker. He would add some much-needed speed to the linebacker corps, and his versatility would give Spagnuolo yet another tool to utilize at his disposal. Collins’ experience playing as an off-ball linebacker also comes in handy in both a rotational role and as desperately needed depth, should the Chiefs suffer an injury to Anthony Hitchens.
But as Craig noted at the time, Collins — who had just hit the open market — would be an expensive option.
Unfortunately, that versatility will make him prized by just about team in the league. Collins was due $10 million and $12 million over the next two years, not cheap. He is 28 years old, leaving plenty of time for a team to invest in him and get high-level play — and outside of a torn MCL in 2017, he’s been very healthy.
When Craig wrote those words on March 7, Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Eric Berry were all still on the Chiefs roster — and more importantly, their contracts were still active.
We didn’t know that within days, the Chiefs would suddenly have lots of cap space with which to work — with another big chunk of it to be delivered on June 2, when Eric Berry’s contract comes off the books.
We also didn’t know that two days earlier, Overland Park police had been called to the home of Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The facts of what may or may not have occurred in Hill’s home on March 5 — or at any time before or since then — remain unknown, but one thing is certain: the $100 million contract the Chiefs were reportedly planning to negotiate with Hill this offseason is clearly no longer on the table.
In early March, signing Collins would have been a luxury — but things are different now. Could Jamie Collins become a Chief?
One national writer thinks so. On Monday, in an article about where the top remaining NFL free agents might be signed, CBS Sports writer Cody Benjamin identified Kansas City as a possible landing spot for Collins.
Collins seems like the kind of luxury upgrade Andy Reid would love to give Steve Spagnuolo. Kansas City’s LB situation isn’t insanely bad, but with some money to spare, they can afford to find a place for Collins, especially since LB was the one position the Chiefs didn’t address in the draft. They’ve already been aggressive to upgrade the defense, so why not finish it off? Collins got paid. Now he can contend.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Benjamin wasn’t reporting that sources were telling him the Chiefs were negotiating with Collins — much less even talking to him. To date, there have been no such reports from Benjamin — or anyone else.
It is true, however, that Benjamin’s opinion that Collins would be a good fit with the Chiefs — particularly since any free agents signed after Tuesday afternoon will not count in the compensatory picks formula for the 2020 draft — created some online speculation that the Chiefs could sign Collins.
But so far, it’s nothing more than speculation. We haven’t even found a tweet from someone whose brother-in-law’s cousin knows someone whose ex-wife showed Collins a house in the Kansas City suburbs.
That isn’t to say it couldn’t happen. It certainly could. Collins would be a good fit for the team, and the Chiefs — now with about $17 million cap space, and only two linebackers who have NFL experience in a 4-3 scheme — could afford to make the move.
Now that it wouldn’t carry a potential penalty in the compensatory picks formula — and given what we have seen so far — it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think Chiefs general manager Brett Veach might make another move in free agency. While signing Collins is a move Veach could easily consider, there are other players who could be on his radar, too — names like Tre Boston, Maxx Williams and Shane Ray are just a few that come to mind.
We’ll see what happens.