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Should Cowboys Trade OT La’el Collins Before 2020 Free Agency?

One of the more intriguing contract situations the have right now is with Offensive . He has one year left on his deal and there are signs that the team is already preparing to lose him in 2020. If that is the expectation, should Dallas Collins now before they'd get nothing in return?

La'el is expected to be back as the in 2019, counting $9.9 million against the . Dallas could save roughly $8.5 million of that if they traded him to another team; a significant chunk of cap space that could go to some of their other financial goals with , , and other star players.

Since joining Dallas in 2015, Collins has been a solid starter but never emerged as the potential Top-10 talent that some considered him before the draft. The difference between him and a guy like , though, is that the Cowboys never had to spend a first-round pick to get him.

It's important to remember La'el's backstory. Despite being considered a potential first-round draft prospect, he went undrafted because of pending legal matters from a homicide investigation. He was eventually cleared of any involvement after the Cowboys had made him a priority free .

This really is one of the underrated moves of the last five years in Dallas' roster management. Collins has gone on to start 46 games over the last four seasons, with the full 16 in each of the last two. It was a no-risk situation for the Cowboys, and they have reaped bountifully.

But now we've come to a bit of an impasse. The Cowboys can't pay all of their young studs what they deserve, and their recent moves on the suggest that Collins is about to become a casualty.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

By signing swing tackle Cam Fleming through 2020 and drafting in the of the most recent draft, Dallas appears to be preparing for the future.

Whether it's promoting Fleming to the starting lineup next year, or perhaps using McGovern or at right tackle, the Cowboys have given themselves options. They are likely going to let someone else pay La'el Collins his next big contract.

Some would argue that if the team is already planning to make this Collins' last season in Dallas, it would be good to go ahead and trade him. Why let him walk next year for nothing?

That makes sense from an asset management perspective, but it means taking a big hit to your talent and depth in 2019. And with the Cowboys pursuing a championship this season, it's a risk that really isn't worth the return.

Collins is the best right tackle on the roster for this season. Fleming is a solid backup but not the same player. McGovern is a rookie and could use a year of grooming. Williams spent last year at and played in college.

Consider you never spent a draft pick to acquire La'el Collins, why be terribly concerned about recouping one in his exit?

Remember, there's still the compensatory draft pick formula. Depending on what other moves Dallas has next year, there's a good chance that the contract Collins signs with his next team will still bring the Cowboys a solid draft pick. It could be another fourth-rounder like the one we received this year from ' departure.

So no, between your 2019 championship goal and the chance of getting a compensatory pick in 2021, it doesn't make sense to trade La'el Collins now. Use him while you've got him, because he's definitely your best option at right tackle this year.

Even if the Cowboys lose La'el next year and gets nothing back, they still come away winners in the deal.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Chuck Wright

Adding a draft pick (at least a 3rd as that will be the comp pick on him anyway), freeing up cap space is a plus. Dallas has shown they draft well enough and keep in mind they have Fleming, their swing tackle who’s clearly NFL starter talent, Conner Williams, college tackle and UDFA Hyatt from Clemson who might be a steal.

The question is, can any of them play in 2019 at Collins’ level? Even if it’s close, no brainer though Dallas is getting at least a 4th round comp pick for him regardless.

Trade now and be ready when the season starts.

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