The NFL’s new league year opens in six days, which means teams still are over the cap – such as the Dallas Cowboys – have time to maneuver and get under it before business opens on a new football season.
As it stands, OverTheCap.com estimates Dallas is $1,110,518 over the cap. So while that isn’t much of a hurdle to clear this close to the start of the NFL’s new calendar year, the Cowboys could be struggling to pick where they want to trim from in order to get under the cap. Last week, it was looking like wide receiver Amari Cooper could be a cap casualty. But more recently, a different option is coming up in discussion: OT La’el Collins.
The #Cowboys are having active trade conversations centered around starting OT La'el Collins, sources say. A mainstay since 2015, Collins is due $10M this coming year and there is interest from other teams.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2022
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the Cowboys are talking trade with offensive tackle La’el Collins. The 28-year-old lineman as been a primary starter in the trenches for Dallas since 2015. Collins has 74 games (71 starts) under his belt and is coming off a season in which his 80.2 overall grade from PFF was 15th best among 83 qualifying tackles. Save for missing out of the 2020 season due to a hip injury, Collins has been equal parts durable and darn good. But Collins has a $10 million base salary and $15.25 million cap number for the 2022 season. In short, Collins is a good ballplayer. And the Cowboys probably don’t want to see him go. But if other teams have as much interest as Rapoport suggests, then hashing out a trade makes sense.
Parting ways with Collins could create $1.3 million and get them under the cap. However, that would come with a $13.95 million dead money hit. This is where a post-June 1 trade could make more sense. Because a trade after June 1 clears $10 million in cap space while spreading out the dead money hit. Eating $5.25 million in dead money over multiple years seems more appetizing than eating the nearly $14 million up front.
So … what about the Bears? They need lineman. And have a new general manager who doesn’t seem fond about how the group was playing last season.
Obviously, the Bears should be a team sniffing around opportunities like this one. Solid, reliable offensive linemen don’t tend to hit the trade market too often. And because Dallas could be trying to unload Collins more due to his contract than his play then perhaps the cost of doing business might not be as pricy as one might otherwise expect. I suppose the Cowboys could cook up a way to eat some money in order to sweeten the return in a trade. Even still … that feels like a big ask. Then again, teams that would be inquiring about Collins would be in the driver’s seat when it comes trade talks because of Dallas’ place being up against the cap.
Unfortunately, I struggle to envision the Bears swinging such a trade. This is a franchise that doesn’t have much trade capital at this time. Chicago has just five picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. So even though the Bears have the need and room to operate under the cap, they just don’t have the most enticing assets to toss in a trade. It doesn’t mean first-year GM Ryan Poles shouldn’t explore the opportunity. But he shouldn’t go hog wild if the situation doesn’t call for it.