The Dallas Cowboys offensive line has been one of the better groups in the NFL since the 2014 season as they’ve constantly found ways to replenish the line with talent after starters walk in free agency or retire. La’el Collins originally replaced Ronald Leary as the team’s left guard before bouncing out to right tackle the last two seasons.
Though he’s had some ups and downs over the course of his career, he’s been a solid player and has had some excellent games against some of the top pass rushers in the NFL. The 2017 game against the Oakland Raiders and Khalil Mack comes to mind. In that game, primarily matched up with Mack, Collins didn’t allow a sack or a quarterback hit in the game according to Pro Football Focus.
His ability to play with strength in the run and pass game has helped the Dallas Cowboys continue to have one of the best offensive lines in football after mainstay Doug Free retired after the 2016 season.
Yesterday, Charean Williams, who has covered the Dallas Cowboys for two decades published a story on Pro Football Talk that discussed Collins’ desire to remain with the Dallas Cowboys for the remainder of his career.
In the piece Collins mentioned his “love” for the Dallas Cowboys and Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones. It was Jones who signed Collins as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft that saw Collins drop from being a sure-fire first-round pick. Because he was interviewed and connected to the murder of an ex-girlfriend, the NFL was hands-off until after the draft and Collins’ name was cleared. Jerry Jones signed him to a rich UDFA contract and then extended Collins prior to the 2017 season and his first full season at right tackle.
The Dallas Cowboys and the coaching staff have shown a lot of faith in Collins since coming out of LSU, so there’s always a possibility he takes a reduced rate to stay with the Dallas Cowboys out of “love” and respect for the Dallas Cowboys and the Jones family.
It’s expected that when Collins becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2020 offseason that he’ll have an opportunity to land a big-time contract on the open market. When tackles come available, they get paid, because they don’t come available very often. Only because the Cowboys have already invested the most money in the NFL in their offensive line, is it a possibility for Collins to leave in free agency. With Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick locked up through the 2023 season and Zack Martin through the 2024 season, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested a ton in their premier offensive linemen.
A plan appears to be in place for Collins succession as the Cowboys spent their third-round draft pick on Connor McGovern. It looks as though if Collins is allowed to leave in 2020 that 2019 starting Left Guard Connor Williams would slide out to right tackle with McGovern taking over at left guard.
La’el Collins is one of the better right tackles in the NFL and if he continues to play like it will likely play himself out of Dallas to a well deserved and lengthy contract. There aren’t many opportunities for NFL players to hit a pay-day so when those opportunities arise, they generally take advantage and cash in. As we sit here in July of 2019, it seems very unlikely that Collins will be a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2020.
Nothing is impossible in the NFL and as we’ve learned with the Cowboys and Jerry Jones, surprises are around every corner.