In the short term, the Patriots’ situation on the offensive line remains a serious question mark. But there are long-term concerns for this NFL season, and that could explain why New England is taking a look at recently released tackle La’el Collins, let go by the Bengals a year after signing a three-year, $21 million contract with the team, and nine months after having surgery to fix a torn ACL and MCL.
As Mark Daniels of MassLive reported: “According to a league source, the Patriots have shown interest in Collins. However, at this time, the team’s level of interest is considered due diligence, according to a second source.”
The Patriots are without projected right tackle starter Reilly Reiff for at least the first four weeks of the year, as he is on the PUP list. Center David Andrews remains solid, and the Patriots have Trent Brown at left tackle. But the rest of the O-line is a mess, and the Patriots need answers.
Perhaps Collins could be one—eventually, once he works his way back to playing shape, which might require several more weeks. Collins has 89 games of NFL experience behind him, including 86 starts. He began his career in Dallas, and was a fixture there for five seasons before he missed all of 2020 and part of 2021. Dallas then let him go.
Collins started 15 games for the Bengals before his injury last December, which came against the Patriots.
Injuries Wreak Havoc on Week 2 O-Line
The Patriots need more immediate help than Collins could provide, though.
Calvin Anderson and rookie Sidy Sow were the starters on the right side of the line in Week 1, but Anderson missed all of camp with an injury and looked rusty, while Sow looked very much like a rookie. The same could be said at the left guard spot, where another rookie, Atonio Mafi, was forced into a starting role, as guards Cole Strange and Michael Onwenu were hurt.
Pro Football Focus had the Patriots ranked as the fifth-worst offensive line in Week 1, noting that Sow and Mafi were No. 2 and No. 6, respectively, on the list of worst grades for offensive linemen. They, as well as Anderson, “all allowed at least five pressures against the Philadelphia Eagles.”
All that would be disastrous on its own, but the Patriots could be looking at even more offensive line trouble this week, as both Brown and Sow missed Wednesday’s practice in concussion protocol. Strange (knee injury) and Onwenu (ankle) were still listed as limited in practice, and Andrews (hamstring) was a new addition to the injury report.
Collins Would Make Sense for Pats
Veteran Patriots reporter Phil Perry was asked this week about the prospect of adding Collins, and whether it made sense for New England.
“It would, in my opinion,” Perry wrote on NBC Sports Boston. “They’re desperate at that position, as their two late-summer acquisitions just before the start of the season would indicate. Not only because they have very little behind Calvin Anderson and Trent Brown, but because even the starting duo is no sure thing.”
Those two late acquisitions were Vederian Lowe from the Vikings and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. from the Browns. In his career, Lowe has had four NFL appearances, for a total of 33 snaps, per Pro-Football-reference.com. Wheatley, a converted tight end, made his first NFL appearance on Sunday in Week 1.