Raise your hand if you saw this one coming.
Blockbuster deal: Patriots traded LB Jamie Collins to Cleveland for a compensatory third-round pick, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 31, 2016
Collins, along with Dont'a Hightower, was part of the best linebacker duo in the NFL, and most folks had him in New England's long-term plans. The real questions coming into the 2016 offseason was how to best retain both Collins and Hightower; looks like that's no longer a problem.
Maybe he's more injured than we know. Maybe there are some other issues we aren't aware of. And maybe Collins's drop in play this season is about more than his injury history. Whatever it is, Collins is no longer on the team and the Patriots now have another 3rd round pick as they continue to amass draft capital. You'd think that Collins's ability warrants a higher draft selection, but seeing as how he's at the end of his contract, I guess a 3rd rounder makes sense. And who knows; since it's Cleveland we're talking about here, maybe Collins plays out the season and then ends up back on the Patriots via free agency. I certainly wouldn't put that past the Browns.
Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.
UPDATE: The New England Patriots were apparently having "a lot of trouble" regarding contract talks for Collins, per Ben Volin. This might have been a case where the team saw that Collins being a Patriots beyond this year just wasn't in the cards, so they wanted to move him while he still had some value.
UPDATE 2: Collins was reportedly asking for "Von Miller money" to stay with the team. Miller's contract is currently six years, $114.5 million., Zero chance the Patriots agree to that kind of deal. All signs are starting to point to him being on the way out after this season, and the team could either move him by tomorrow at 4PM or let him walk with no return value.
UPDATE 3: The number the Patriots were offering Collins was somewhere in the $11 million per year range. For comparison, Luke Kuechly earns 12. That apparently wasn't even close to enough, meaning a deal just wasn't going to get done.