With All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley out for the second season in a row, the Baltimore Ravens could be looking for some additional help at offensive tackle before the NFL’s November 2 trade deadline.
Enter Dallas Cowboys right tackle La’el Collins, who just finished serving a five-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and resumed football activities with the team this week. The Cowboys cut fullback Nick Ralston to make room for Collins on their 53-man roster.
Collins was named the Ravens’ “ideal trade target” by Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski, who wrote:
Stanley’s absence created a void on Lamar Jackson’s blind side, which has been filled by veteran Alejandro Villanueva. Villanueva has moved from right to left tackle, and Patrick Mekari took over strong-side duties, creating a tenuous situation.
Meanwhile, La’el Collins has been reinstated after his five-game suspension, yet he might find himself without a starting job. Terence Steele played very well for the Dallas Cowboys to open this season, and considering his improvement and Collins’ salary increase after this year, the Cowboys may consider a move.
Normally, a 5-1 division leader like the Cowboys wouldn’t be open to trading one of their top offensive linemen, but second-year tackle Terence Steele has played well in Collins’ absence, perhaps well enough to encourage Dallas to move on from their longtime right tackle.
Steele hasn’t allowed a single sack all year, limiting his blocking assignments to just six total quarterback pressures in 192 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. His efforts have contributed to the Cowboys’ league-leading offense, which is first in total yards and points this season.
Gauging Ravens’ Interest in Collins
Collins’ pedigree should be enough to get the Ravens interested in Collins, if the Cowboys are open to trading him. Though he missed last season due to injury, he put up a stellar 2019, earning an 86.4 overall grade from PFF in exactly 1,000 snaps.
While other potential trade targets likely carry too large of a cap hit to land in Baltimore, Collins is relatively affordable.
“The Ravens don’t have much salary-cap space, but they can handle the prorated portion of Collins’ $1.55 million base salary,” wrote Sobleski.
Baltimore has the assets to get the deal done, with 10 picks in next year’s draft, including nine in the first four rounds, and general manager Eric DeCosta is no stranger to high-impact midseason trades. Just look at his 2019 acquisition of All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters as an example.
After multiple reshuffles this season, Baltimore may opt to stick with their five current linemen, whose chemistry with each other and quarterback Lamar Jackson has propelled the Ravens’ offense to a 5-1 start to the year.
Could the Cowboys Deal Collins?
With Collins eligible to return to the Cowboys after their Week 7 bye, Dallas suddenly has some decisions to make. They could shuffle their offensive line so that both Collins and Steele can play, or they could dangle one of the two as trade bait for tackle-needy teams.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones noted that returning starters usually get their position back, but added that he expects to see “both of them out there quite a bit every game,” per Mark Lane of USA Today.
It would be somewhat of a surprise to see a Super Bowl hopeful like the Cowboys deal a top offensive tackle midseason, especially with recent years proving the importance of offensive line depth in the playoffs.