La’el Collins landed a new deal from the Dallas Cowboys which, in a roundabout way, brings the team closer to locking down a certain running back.
The Cowboys on Tuesday signed Collins to a five-year extension worth $50 million in “new money,” per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Collins will receive $35 million in guarantees, with the first two years of the contract fully guaranteed. This, in addition to the $8.5 million he was scheduled to make for 2019. The guaranteed portion is the highest ever given to a right tackle, ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes.
He’s the second player whom Dallas has extended in as many months, joining outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, who inked a five-year, $64 million pact in August.
An LSU product, Collins entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent, signed by the Cowboys for $1.599 million. He played in 12 games at guard as a rookie, replacing the injured Ronald Leary. In 2016, he earned the starting job over Leary before suffering a season-ending injury. The next year, he was moved to right tackle to succeed Doug Free, and he’s since remained at the spot, starting all 16 games each of the past two years.
Collins, 26, is a key component to Dallas’ dominant offensive line, even if he doesn’t sport the credentials of Tyron Smith or Zack Martin.
“He has done nothing but make his mark,” owner Jerry Jones said of Collins, via beat writer Clarence Hill. “He is the enforcer. He has the attitude. He has the Erik Williams attitude. It’s good to get him agreed to the for the long term. I think he will finish his career as a Cowboy.”
After taking care of Collins, the Cowboys can turn their attention to other contract-seeking stars, such as the aforementioned Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and cornerback Byron Jones.
The team had roughly $20 million in available salary cap room prior to Collins’ deal.
“There’s no question the pie is getting smaller. To the extent we look at how much we allocate to each and every player, each and every position, that creates boundaries,” Jones said, via Pro Football Talk.
Jerry Reverses Course on Zeke
Jones took a hard stance against the two-time Pro Bowl back in recent days, amid reports that once-blossoming discussions quickly turned contentious … again. On Tuesday, a possible make-or-break day with the season-opener approaching, Jones was more optimistic, saying he’s “hopeful” of having Elliott in the starting lineup against the Giants.
“We’ll see how today goes,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan. “We’ll see how tomorrow goes. We’ll see how the ensuing hours pan out.”
How Collins’ New Contract Helps Elliott
As a source explained to WFAA’s Mike Leslie, the extension actually creates some added room under the cap — room they’ll need to fit in Elliott’s likely record-setting deal. Says Leslie: “A #Cowboys front office source confirms that the money they have saved with the new La’el Collins extension indeed helps with the process of signing Ezekiel Elliott to a long-term deal. It’s “all part of the puzzle”, he says. And the pieces are being fit into place.”
Per Schefter, Collins putting pen to paper created $5.7 million in cap space, money they could put toward Elliott, who reportedly returned to Dallas from Cabo in the event his representatives reach an agreement with the organization.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL