The Dallas Cowboys’ salary cap situation continues to haunt the defending NFC East champions during NFL free agency. La’el Collins is the latest victim.
After attempting to trade the starting right tackle for salary cap purposes, Dallas has opted to release Collins. The move saves the team $10 million against the cap in 2022 while creating even more holes.
A former undrafted free agent out of LSU, Collins has morphed into one of the better tackles in the NFL. He’s started all 57 games in which he’s appeared over the past four seasons — helping provide franchise quarterback Dak Prescott with the necessary protection up front.
This move comes after Dallas was forced to trade star wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns for pennies on the dollar while losing edge rusher Randy Gregory to the Denver Broncos in free agency.
For the Cowboys, releasing La’el Collins creates a hole opposite franchise left tackle Tyron Smith. According to Pro Football Focus, Collins was the 15th-ranked offensive tackle in the NFL last season. When talking solely right tackles, he was ranked among the top-five.
We’re talking about an elite-level right tackle heading to a market with a number of teams in desperate need to upgrade at that position. Below, we look at four ideal landing spots for Collins.
La’el Collins landing spots after release from the Dallas Cowboys
- Cincinnati Bengals: After seeing Joe Burrow sacked a league-high 51 times and face unrelenting pressure in Cincinnati’s Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams, this position becomes a major need. Cincinnati has upgraded at guard with Ted Karras and Alex Cappa. But it has ignored the right tackle spot. With $13 million to spend under the cap and other avenues to create more room, the Bengals can afford La’el Collins.
- Chicago Bears: New Bears general manager Ryan Poles has made it clear that Chicago’s protection in front of then-rookie Justin Fields was not acceptable a season ago. Despite this, the Bears have not made a move to upgrade out on the edge. They have been linked to New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler Terron Armstead, who plays left tackle. Why not spend some of the $30 million they have under the cap to actually find Fields a starter-caliber player on the other side?
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- Denver Broncos: Having gone all in with the Russell Wilson trade, it stands to reason that Broncos general manager George Paton will look to find the former Super Bowl QB an upgrade at right tackle. Bobby Massie is a free agent. The signing of veteran journeyman Tom Compton isn’t the answer. With how much Wilson was sacked during his time in Seattle, this had to be a conversation before he accepted a trade to the Broncos. Signing La’el Collins would be the next big move.
- Las Vegas Raiders: Last year’s first-round pick, Alex Leatherwood, is much better suited to play guard moving forward. That selection was a reach from former general manager Mike Mayock. With Dave Ziegler now calling the shots in Sin City, the expectation here is that he’ll be looking for a starter-caliber right tackle to help protect Derek Carr. The new GM has created enough room to add Collins to the mix. And in reality, this seems to be an ideal destination.
While these are the four teams we’d link Collins to the most, his market is going to be vast in the grand scheme of things. That includes some other options, too.
- Other potential La’el Collins landing spots: Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Commanders, Cleveland Browns