Back in September, just before the start of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys gave Right Tackle La'el Collins a five-year extension on his contract worth $50 million. It was a bit of a surprise at the time, but the Cowboys look like geniuses now after Collins' strong performance in 2019.
We were in a different place as a Cowboys Nation when it came to Collins about a year ago. Even I wrote an article last February suggesting that La'el might be a salary cap casualty that offseason depending on what Dallas' other roster needs were.
One of the commenters on that article felt even more strongly; “Cut his sorry a$$.”
So yes, we've come a long way in less than 12 months. Now Collins has ascended to being seen as a Pro Bowl snub and worthy of the same accolades as his All-Pro teammates on the Cowboys' offensive line.
Some have even stated he was Dallas' best lineman in 2019 and perhaps the best right tackle in all the NFL.
Those praises make the $10 million average on Collins' contract look all the more brilliant. Turning just 27 this July, La'el is signed through the 2024 season and he may turn out to be one of the best bargains on the roster.
Compare that average to what the Eagles are paying Lane Johnson at $18 million per season, or the $16.5 million that Trent Brown gets from the Raiders. While Collins is still in the top five for right tackle compensation in the league, he's making almost half of what the top guy does.
This is a time when paying a guy based on future expectations was rewarded. Or as I'll call it, a “reverse Tyrone Crawford.”
The Cowboys tried this in 2015 when they extended Crawford with a five-year, $45 million contract. They thought he would blossom as a 4-3 defensive tackle under Rod Marinelli and it never quite worked out. Tyrone's contract has been arguably the worst on the team for the last few years now.
Thankfully, this leap of faith seems to be going well. La'el Collins is now one of your top players and playing for a steal compared to the NFL's other premiere right tackles.
You win some; you lose some.