NFL Drops Hammer on Key Cowboys Starter With Major Suspension

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Getty Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

The Dallas Cowboys announced starting right tackle La’el Collins has been suspended by the NFL for five games. Collins’ suspension is the result of a violation of the NFL Policy of Substances of Abuse.

“Starting right tackle La’el Collins has been suspended without pay for the next five games for violating the NFL Policy on Substances of Abuse, the NFL announced Friday,” the Cowboys stated in a press release. “Collins will be eligible to return to the Cowboys’ active roster on Monday, Oct. 18, following the team’s Week 6 game at New England.”

The Cowboys have a bye in Week 7 which means the soonest the Cowboys will have had their offensive line at full strength will be Week 8 against the Vikings. Starting guard Zack Martin missed the season opener after testing positive for COVID-19, and Collins will be sidelined when the veteran returns to the field.

Collins Plans to Appeal the Suspension: Report

There have been few details released on what prompted Collins’ suspension. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Collins’ suspension was tied to “missing drug tests” which the NFL deemed as a “failure to appear.” ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Collins plans to appeal the suspension, but it is viewed as having a low chance of potentially overturning the punishment.

“Source: While it seems unlikely to succeed, lawyers for Cowboys OT La’El Collins continue to appeal on his behalf, arguing the NFL policy allows for a fine but not a suspension for a player who has only failed to appear for required drug testing,” Werder tweeted.

The Cowboys Did Not Address the Offensive Line in the 2021 NFL Draft Until the 4th Round

The unfortunate news puts the Cowboys’ recent draft under a further microscope as the team opted not to address the offensive line with an early pick. There had been some buzz around Northwestern offensive lineman Rashawn Slater being in prime consideration for the Cowboys at No. 10, but ultimately the team opted to trade down to No. 12 where they selected linebacker Micah Parsons. One pick later, Slater was drafted by the Chargers at No. 13.

Pro Football Talk reported that Collins’ suspension “is not final,” but this seems unlikely given the team announced the news. Barring a successful appeal, the Cowboys will be without Collins for essentially the first half of the NFL season.

“The La’el Collins suspension is not final and should have been disclosed or reported,” Pro Football Talk tweeted. “But, as usual, the NFL’s confidentiality policy is breached — by among others the NFL’s in-house media operation.”

Collins’ Representatives Called out the NFL

Collins’ representatives noted they are “extremely disappointed in how the NFL has handled this entire matter” calling out the league for “trampling on Mr. Collins’ rights to prematurely releasing the information,” per Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken. Additionally, Gehlken added that Collins’ suspension comes from his decision to decline testing.

“Cowboys RT La’el Collins did not test positive for substance, source said,” Gehlken tweeted. “He declined to test. In any event, suspension stands. He’ll be docked five game checks — an amount that would be higher if not for March contract restructure, which converted some salary to signing bonus.”

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