Cowboys’ loss is Bengals’ gain with La’el Collins signing

La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Wow, did June 1 sneak up on you? Just snuck up on us. We’re going to need a minute. Because, in another example of NFL funkiness (a sequel to The Salary Cap is Fake), former Dallas Cowboys OT La’el Collins — designated as a post-June 1 cut this past week — has already reportedly found a new home.

Initially, Dallas pledged to field trade offers for Collins as part of their barely-justified money slicing spree. Somehow, they were unable to find a landing spot for the lineman, instead setting him free and saving themselves $10 million in the process.

Hours after Amari Cooper’s contract was restructured in Cleveland (imagine that!), another black mark on Dallas’ offseason, the AFC Champion Bengals hosted Collins for a visit and, according to Mike Garafolo, didn’t let him leave town without a deal.

And so, there it is. Another former Cowboy creating a hole in the current roster, and another close-to-contention team shoring up a weakness instead of crafting new ones.

Cowboys’ La’el Collins finalizing deal with Cincinnati Bengals

Don’t get it twisted — this truly was a weakness that needed to be addressed. That Bengals star QB Joe Burrow made it to the Super Bowl with what bordered on no protection up front was a minor miracle.

This offseason, they’ve now added Collins, ex-Patriot Ted Karras and guard Alex Cappa. While the ex-Cowboys stalwart has occasionally come up lame (he missed the entire 2020 season), he’s been one of the league’s elite pass blockers when healthy, racking up a PFF grade of over 70 in that department for each of his past three active years.

If the end of Collins’ tenure in Dallas soured you on his contributions (hip surgery and a five-game substance abuse suspension), you’ve played directly into the Jones’ message of the post-Ezekiel Elliott Extension Era.

This is a bed of the Cowboys’ own making, and in that universe, Collins was a clearly extraneous part/could be replaced in the draft.

Again, though, a homegrown star has become someone else’s gain, a refrain that’s been echoed far too often this season.