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NFL Loophole Allowing Teams to Meet With La’el Collins

Technically speaking, teams are not allowed to meet with former LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins until May 9, when LSU’s final exams conclude. According to an email sent by NFL spokesman Brian McCarthey to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:

Clubs are prohibited from visiting a player who was eligible for the 2015 Draft at his campus or residence if the player has withdrawn from school and final exams have yet to conclude at the school,” the statement read. “This includes drafted players, any undrafted players that have signed as free agents, and any undrafted players that have yet to sign.

Collins went undrafted this year as teams await word about what involvement, if any, Collins had in the murder of ex-girlfriend Brittney Mills and her unborn child. Collins and his attorney Jim Boren met with Baton Rouge, Louisiana investigators on Monday and Collins has not been named a suspect in the murder. Still, teams are wary of the situation and until and unless it is resolved in Collins’ favor, teams won’t be signing him.

That doesn’t mean that teams aren’t interested, however. And the NFL’s rule about teams talking with Collins appears to be easy to circumvent. Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan has already done so, meeting with Collins over dinner at Ruffino’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge on Monday night, according to The Advocate‘s Ben Wallace.

Meanwhile a contingent of Collins’ former LSU teammates currently on the Miami Dolphins roster are on their way to Louisiana to talk to Collins about any potential interest he has in coming to Miami. FOX 8 New Orleans’ Chad Sabadie reports that the group includes Jarvis Landry, Anthony Johnson and Kelvin Sheppard along with head coach Joe Philbin; the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, meanwhile, reports that no Dolphins employees made the trip along with the players.

Collins is a high-profile player, one who could have been drafted as high as Round 1 this year had he not been connected, however tangentally, to Mills’ murder. It’s obvious┬áthat teams are coveting his services should he be officially cleared of wrongdoing. And while the NFL may try to limit teams’ contact with him until that May 9 deadline, and while Collins’ agent Deryk Gilmore may publicly say that Collins is not taking any meetings at this time, the loophole of meeting at a private location is one at least the Bills and Dolphins are trying to exploit in order to get ahead of their competition.

Photo: USA Today Sports