The Cleveland Browns have signed former New England Patriots LB Jamie Collins to a 4-year contract extension according to a team press release. The Browns acquired Collins from the Patriots for a compensatory 3rd round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has the contract details:
The contract extension for #Browns LB Jamie Collins: 4 years, $50M, source said. $26M in guarantees. Large.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 23, 2017
Collins is under contract for $12.50 million per year, although the true value depends on how the contract is structured. Collins’ deal exceeds Panthers LB Luke Kuechly ($12.36 million) on a per year basis and is the most for a stand-up linebacker in the league. Of course the Browns have started to use Collins on the edge, so Collins trails the likes of Broncos EDGE Von Miller ($19.08 million), Chiefs EDGE Justin Houston ($16.83 million), and Packers LB/EDGE Clay Matthews ($13.20 million).
The Patriots and LB Dont’a Hightower have been waiting for this contract because it provides a nice opening for the discussion. Collins is more athletic, but Hightower is a key piece of the Patriots versatile defense; both have been named Second Team All Pro.
Hightower is a team captain and will likely command a 5- or 6-year deal in the $11-$12.5 million per year range. Look for Hightower to received similar guaranteed money, too. Remember that the Browns had to pay a premium to retain Collins because Cleveland is not a desirable landing spot for free agents.
Now that Collins is signed, the Patriots should push to get the ball rolling with Hightower so the two sides can come to terms before free agency begins on March 9th.