The Las Vegas Raiders had some big misses in free agency last offseason. One of the worst moves in hindsight was the signing of former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Maliek Collins. He was supposed to be an important part of their defensive line and help bring some interior pass rush. He rewarded the Raiders with zero sacks in 12 games.
Luckily, the team only gave him a one-year deal so they were able to move off of him. It appears Collins is landing on his feet rather quickly. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the veteran defensive tackle is signing a one-year deal with the Houston Texans worth up to $6 million.
Former Cowboys’ DT Maliek Collins reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $6 million with the Texans; @DrewJRosenhaus tells ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2021
Collins had some strong years in Dallas so there’s a chance he can turn it around. The Raiders haven’t been good to free-agent defensive linemen so maybe it was just a bad fit. It’s a smart risk for the Texans. If he can return to form, he’s a solid interior pass rusher. If he doesn’t, the investment is rather small.
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Collins Was Supposed to Be Key to Raiders Defense
It’s unfortunate that Collins couldn’t figure things out in Las Vegas. There was a ton of hype surrounding his addition. He was named a team captain and head coach Jon Gruden said that he was the key to the defense.
“I’ll go back to Maliek Collins, it all starts there,” Gruden said prior to last season. “He’ll be the anchor. We’ll go as far as he takes us.”
Gruden was probably not too far off in his assessment that Collins was the key to the defense. He didn’t play well and the defense was mostly terrible for the year. It’s clear the Raiders didn’t foresee him struggling as much as he did. When they signed him, it was probably in hopes that he’d be a long-term fix on the defensive line. That obviously wasn’t the case and now the Raiders are back to the drawing board.
Raiders Still Need to Fix the Defensive Line
With Collins being a bust for the Raiders, they now need to try again to fix their defensive line. Johnathan Hankins is a free agent but there’s a chance he returns. If not, the team could be in big trouble. The interior of the team’s defensive line has brought almost no pass rush.
Maurice Hurst is a solid young player but it still remains to be seen if he’ll be a consistent impact player. The Raiders will likely need to be active in free agency if they hope to address the position group. This year’s draft is light on defensive tackle talent so this could be a good time for the team to make a splash on a big-name free agent. The Raiders created a lot of cap space this offseason. If they want to make a big move, they can afford it. Putting together a good defensive line should do wonders for a defense that has struggled for years.