Allen Park — After shopping him on the trade market the past week, the Detroit Lions couldn’t find a taker for Jamie Collins. On Tuesday, they released the veteran linebacker.
Signed to a three-year, $30 million deal ahead of the 2020 season, Collins appeared in just 16 games for the Lions. Last year, he paced the team with 101 tackles, while also adding six pass breakups, three forced fumbles and a sack.
Ahead of this season, the team restructured his contract, reducing his base salary by $5 million and his cap hit by $2.5 million. And in May, defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn excitedly discussed the possibility of utilizing Collins’ versatility.
“I have a number of ideas I want to do with him,” Glenn said. “Could put him as a stack back, could put him on the edge, maybe put him at the zero technique and let him beat some of these centers that are slow-footed.”
But it took two regular-season games for the Lions to determine things weren’t working out and that Collins was blocking rookie Derrick Barnes from seeing the field.
“We felt like if you’re going to grow and you’re going to try to get better as a team, as a unit, everything, you better do it now,” Campbell said about getting Barnes in the mix last week. “There again, I think this is best for Jamie as well. He gets a chance to go somewhere and do what he does and we’re just in a different place.”
The Lions thought they’d be able to move Collins, but it turns out that even with his reduced salary, there wasn’t interest in a player still owed more than $3 million on the cusp of his 32nd birthday.
Following the release, the Lions remain on the hook for $13.6 million in dead money, much of which already has been paid to Collins. The team will have the option to having that fully count against the cap this year or splitting the damage across this season and next.
Even if they had found a trade partner, they would have still been responsible for more than $10 million, tied to his original $7 million signing bonus and the $5 million they paid Collins up front as part of the contract restructure this offseason.