Former Cowboys Starter Signing with Bills in Free Agency: Report

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and former Cowboys OT La'el Collins

Getty Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and former Cowboys OT La'el Collins

The Dallas Cowboys have yet to find a proper replacement for Tyron Smith, and now a familiar face is off the table in free agency. While it seemed unlikely that La’el Collins would stick around for the 2024 season, the tackle now has a new home with the Buffalo Bills.

Bleacher Report insider Jordan Schultz reported the signing on April 4.

“Breaking: Free agent OT La’el Collins is signing with the #Bills, per source. Collins has started 86 games in seven seasons with the #Cowboys and #Bengals,” Schultz wrote on X. “Source: It’s a one-year deal worth up to $6.25M for La’el Collins and the #Bills. Collins had at least one more suitor, but chose Buffalo with the hopes of winning a Super Bowl.”

That’s a sizable deal for Collins, especially considering he did not make a regular season appearance in the 2023 season. Now, he’s joining another AFC contender with the clear intent of winning.

As for Dallas, the left tackle position is still a question mark. Tyler Smith could shift to the outside spot after impressing at left guard, but his success as a guard might not be something to disrupt.

Collins Reunites with Dallas Before Bills Deal

The Cowboys turned heads last January by re-signing Collins to their practice squad after his regular season stint with the Bengals. While he did not see the field during the Cowboys’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, it was still clear that the two sides are amicable.

It makes sense, considering that Collins was a key cog during his initial six-year run with Dallas. He started 71 games over that time and made $67 million over his three contracts.

However, Dallas had a plethora of offensive line talent. So entering the 2022 season, the Cowboys attempted to trade Collins before deciding to cut him. That led the former LSU Tiger to the Bengals, where he impressed in his 15 starts.

Unfortunately for Collins, a brutal ACL/MCL tear in Week 16 cut his 2022 campaign short and all but wrecked his chances to play in 2023. He recovered enough for Dallas to add him to the practice squad, but it still did not work out for Collins to get on the field.

Cowboys Urged Not to Move Tyler Smith

A look around the mock drafts online will tell Cowboys fans that there are plenty of different approaches the team could take. One of them would be drafting another top OT prospect, something Dallas has had consistent success in doing.

And for OL scout Duke Manyweather, any option that doesn’t move Tyler Smith over to tackle is the right one.

“The Cowboys shouldn’t even consider moving Tyler Smith,” Manyweather said on X. “It would be a huge mistake for the OL and for Tyler’s continued development. He’s a SPECIAL OG… I’m not moving a guy who is special at a position to another position he may just be ok at, then have to fill the position he left that he was special at. How does that help your OL?”

In his second season, Smith was named a second-team All-Pro member and 2023 Pro Bowler.