You may have heard it by now but the New England Patriots are re-signing linebacker Jamie Collins. After two and a half years with the Cleveland Browns, the former Patriots second-round draft pick is back with the team with which his NFL career started in 2013. Collins, of course, was a fixture on the Patriots defense before suddenly being traded to Cleveland midway through his fourth season with the club.
With the 29-year-old back in New England now, let’s go back to revisit that trade and its outcome for both the Patriots and the Browns.
This one is pretty straight forward considering the structure of the deal that was made at 2016’s trade deadline in late October: in exchange for a third-round selection in the 2017 draft, the Browns received Collins in the final year of his rookie contract.
LB Jamie Collins
Collins went on to play eight games for his new team and after the season was re-signed on a four-year, $50 million deal. His first season after signing the long-term contract ended after just six games, when Cleveland placed him on injured reserve due to a torn MCL. Collins appeared in all sixteen of the Browns’ games the following year but was let cut after what had been a second straight inconsistent campaign.
New England gets
The Patriots’ side of the trade is a bit more convoluted, as the team moved the aforementioned third-round pick — the 103rd overall selection in the 2017 draft, as it turned out — in a package-deal to acquire a New Orleans Saints wide receiver on what effectively was a one-year rental (the Patriots also received a fourth-round pick that was forfeited due to Deflategate; their lower-fourth rounder was turned into Deatrich Wise Jr.):
After just one season in New England, Cooks was traded again: the Patriots sent him and a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for first and sixth round selections in the 2018 draft. Following another series of trades, the Patriots were left with the following players:
OT Isaiah Wynn
TE Ryan Izzo
DL Byron Cowart
Wynn was picked with the first-rounder obtained in the trade that sent Cooks to Los Angeles, while the Patriots traded the round six pick — the 198th overall — to the Kansas City Chiefs for two seventh-rounders. One was used to pick cornerback Keion Crossen, the other to make another trade with the Philadelphia Eagles: New England received a seventh in 2018 and one in 2019 from that move.
The first of the two picks was invested in tight end Ryan Izzo, who missed his entire rookie season on injured reserve, and the other used in a package-deal to move up in the fifth-round of the draft this year. The Patriots then picked defensive lineman Byron Cowart 159th overall; Cowart is expected to be on the roster bubble this summer, fighting for a backup spot along the line.
Collins has since returned to the Patriots as well. His trade at the 2016 deadline, of course, once again illustrates how New England is using its assets to get as much value as possible onto the team: whether it is by packing the draft choice received with another to get a high-profile offensive weapon, or using said weapon to get even more draft capital.
Sometimes, the Patriots work in mysterious ways. Dissecting their moves like this, however, helps appreciate what they do and how they are able to turn one of their assets — in this case Collins — into a wide portfolio of players. New England built a large part of its dynasty in this fashion, and while the returns of the Collins trade can still not be fully evaluated, the move is another example of that.