Robert Klemko of the MMQB.com recently tooka very detailed look at La’el Collins’ tumultuous period before, during, and after the NFL Draft in late April and early May.
A month before the draft, Collins — an offensive lineman from LSU — was considered a lock to be drafted in the first round with ESPN’s Todd McShay projecting Collins to be the 11th pick and Mel Kiper predicting the lineman would go as high as No. 16.
If Collins would have been taken in that range, he would have received a contract worth $US10 million-$US13 million over the next four years with all of it guaranteed.
However, that changed just days before the draft in late April when Baton Rouge police told ESPN they wanted to talk to Collins in connection with the death of Brittany Mills, a woman authorities believed he had been romantically involved with at one time. Mills was pregnant at the time of her death, but a paternity test determined earlier this month he was not the father of her child, ESPN reported.
Collins eventually was interviewed by police and was never named a suspect in her death. We’ve reached out to his agents for comment.
Before the paternity test results came out, Collins was removed from “multiple” NFL draft boards pending “additional clarity” on the murder case, according to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson.
There was still some speculation that Collins would be drafted in one of the later rounds where a team could potentially get a first-round talent and only have to give him a contract with less than $US100,000 guaranteed.
To avoid this scenario, Collins’ agent, Deryk Gilmore, first lobbied the NFL to remove Collins from the draft and enter him in this summer’s supplemental draft. That would give them a chance to fully clear their client’s name to the satisfaction of NFL teams. The NFL denied this request, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported.
At this point, Collins’ agent did the calculations, according to Klemko, and decided it was better for his client to go undrafted. The big differences were the amount of guaranteed money and the length of his first contract.
If Collins had been drafted late in the sixth or early in seventh round, his contract would have been terrible.
Players drafted in the sixth or seventh round this year received contracts worth $US2.3 million-$US2.4 million over four years with just $US50,000-$US150,000 guaranteed and no hope of becoming a free agent until 2019.
If Collins went undrafted his situation would have been much better.
By going undrafted, Collins was able to choose among numerous offers (29 teams contacted Collins’ agent after the draft, according to Klemko) allowing him to decide which situation was best for his future. The downside is teams were still limited by how much they could offer Collins.
Collins ultimately signed with the Dallas Cowboys who gave him $US1.6 million, all the money left in their rookie free agent pool, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
While that is nearly $US1 million less in total value compared to a late-round pick, the upside is that the Cowboys were able to make the entire $US1.6 million guaranteed and Collins will be eligible for a new contract in 2018, one year earlier when he can sign a more lucrative deal if he plays well.
At this point Collins’ agent made a bold move.
According to Klemko, Collins’ agents told teams that if he was drafted after the third round, he would not sign with the team and would instead sit out a year and re-enter next year’s draft. It was a gamble with multiple risks, and teams could have simply ignored the threat.
After the draft, one of Collins’ agents admitted that the move was a bluff.
“We can put it on the record now: We were never going back in the draft,” his agency’s general counsel, Rick Smith, told Klemko. “If someone had drafted him, we would have had a long, long discussion about it, but at the end of the day you can’t go back in the draft. He could get injured, gain weight, or 10 great tackles could come out. Too many risks.”
The bluff worked. Collins went undrafted and then signed with Dallas.
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