Allen Park — The Detroit Lions are exploring trade options for veteran linebacker Jamie Collins, according to multiple reports Wednesday afternoon.
Collins, a holdover acquisition from the previous regime, is coming off a disappointing performance that netted criticism from coach Dan Campbell earlier in the week.
“Jamie, look, Jamie had some mistakes,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t, certainly, his best performance and, yeah, I think (Derrick) Barnes deserves a shot.”
Barnes, a fourth-round rookie out of Purdue, didn’t play any defensive snaps in Monday’s loss to Green Bay and had just five in the season-opener against San Francisco when Collins was forced to the sideline late in the game by an ankle injury.
The performances of both Collins and Alex Anzalone drew frustration from the fan base during Monday’s loss, but Campbell defended Anzalone’s performance, particularly his effort, when contrasted against Collins.
“Look, Jamie is a big linebacker,” Campbell said. “He’s a very athletic linebacker. The way he moves is a little bit different. Now, does he move with the same effort or have the same effort as Alex? No, I don’t. I think Alex just plays at a high level all of the time. That’s him. That’s how it goes. Jamie, there are things that Jamie does well that we still have to continue to use. He’s still a mismatch on third down, particularly in the rush game and we’ll see where this goes.”
The Lions signed Collins to a three-year, $30 million contract ahead of the 2020 season. His experience and success in former coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme was a selling point and he went on to lead the team with 101 tackles to go along with three forced fumbles and an interception.
This offseason, Collins agreed to a contract restructuring that added three voidable years to the deal, lowering his base salary by $5 million and his cap hit by $2.5 million. Scheduled to have a $13.3 million cap hit in 2023, and offering the team a potential $7 million in cap savings if he’s moved, he was almost certain to be off the roster at season’s end, regardless.
If the Lions are able to find a trading partner, it’s unlikely the soon-to-be, 32-year-old Collins brings back more than a late-round pick. Still, it’s something instead of nothing and clears a path for Barnes to get a full workload.
The Lions still will be on the hook for more than $10 million in dead money on the contract, which they could fully absorb this year or split between this and next.