The Patriots sent shockwaves through Pats Nation and the NFL alike on Monday afternoon, shipping off Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns, in exchange for a compensatory 3rd round selection in the 2017 draft.
The 27-year-old Collins was a prime candidate to be traded, after the Patriots had been unable to reach a fair extension with him. But while the decision to trade him was understandable, the return sure isn't.
If the Patriots were to hang onto Collins for the remainder of the season and let him walk in free agency, they would certainly be awarded a compensatory third-round selection in the 2018 draft, due to the high annual value of his new contract. While they would eventually lose Collins, at least in this scenario they would be able to keep him for the remainder of the season, a stalwart on what just might be (and in my opinion, undoubtedly is) the most talented Patriots roster ever.
And who knows? Maybe a second Super Bowl victory would've convinced Collins to lower his demands and resign with New England.
There's an additional catch to the deal that might really shift the trade in favor of Cleveland. If Cleveland is not awarded a compensatory 3rd round selection, then New England receives Cleveland's fourth round selection. However, as part of the Deflategate sanctions, the Patriots will be stripped (ROBBED) of their earliest 4th round selection, which would obviously be Cleveland's pick.
So if Cleveland doesn't get a compensatory 3rd round selection, the Patriots gave Collins up for literally NOTHING.
Even more confusing is the fact that the Browns have been heavily engaged in trading their two best players: left tackle Joe Thomas and star cornerback Joe Haden. Both would fill a big hole for the Patriots.
One would have to think that the Patriots had the opportunity to deal Collins and a mid-late round selection for one of those players, and turned it down. If so, that's a HUGE mistake by Belichick, who typically receives the benefit of the doubt on all of his moves.
For now, emerging rookie Elandon Roberts looks poised to fill Collins' role, and some variation of Shea McClellin, Barkevious Mingo and Kyle Van Noy will fill the third linebacker spot with Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard at defensive end.
It's hard to fathom, but this Collins trade looks awful on the surface. It's up to Belichick to prove us wrong for the umpteenth time. Here's hoping he does.
By Will Brabrook