According to multiple reports, the Dallas Cowboys are engaged in active trade discussions surrounding starting right tackle La’El Collins. It’s yet another rumor in the midst of what appears to be a potentially troublesome offseason for the cash-strapped Dallas Cowboys as they continue to clear cap space in accordance with the impending arrival of the new league year.
Collins joins superstar wide receiver Amari Cooper and sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence as upscale Cowboys that could potentially be headed toward an untimely exit. Dallas prioritized the retention of tight end Dalton Schultz, who was slapped with the franchise tag earlier this week. The decision to keep and pay Schultz will have ramifications throughout the rest of the roster, and Collins’ healthy salary could be sacrificed.
A plethora of offensive line-needy teams should possess a legitimate interest in acquiring Collins should he truly be available on the trade market. A former undrafted free agent out of LSU (due to at-the-time off-field concerns, not talent questions), Collins has developed into a high-level starting right tackle that also has experience playing both guard positions. He would immediately slot into the starting lineup of nearly every team in the NFL.
We’ve identified three teams that should strongly consider trading for Collins.
NEW YORK JETS
General manager Joe Douglas must continue to invest in the offensive line. Douglas has prioritized the trenches by selecting Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker with first-round selections in back-to-back drafts with mixed results on his investments thus far. Vera-Tucker enjoyed an excellent rookie campaign and appears capable of spearheading their offensive line going forward, but Becton’s career has unfortunately been riddled with injuries and inconsistent play. The Jets will give Becton every opportunity imaginable to get back on the right track in 2022, but the Jets should be wary of putting all their eggs in one unproven basket.
Furthermore, the right side of New York’s offensive line could look considerably different next campaign. Both starting right tackle Morgan Moses and right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif are set to become unrestricted free agents, and neither player is guaranteed to be a Jet in 2022. Moses is especially due a hefty raise in salary, and could potentially price himself outside of Douglas’ comfort zone. The Jets possess a plethora of salary cap space, but Douglas is a shrewd evaluator that rarely pays above what he deems to be a fair price. Acquiring Collins would provide the Jets with some much-needed right-side stability going forward.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chargers should qualify as a potential destination for Collins that could fly under the radar. General manager Tom Telesco enters next week in an excellent situation. The Chargers currently possess a healthy $43.5 million in available cap space, via Spotrac. Just three franchises have more financial freedom than the Chargers do as things stand. Thursday’s acquisition of Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears signals Telesco’s aggressive intentions, and more moves could be on the way.
Telesco drafted an excellent, Pro Bowl left tackle in Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater a year ago, and can now afford to shift his attention to the underperforming and disappointing right side of his offensive line.
The aging Bryan Bulaga barely featured a year ago due to recurring back and groin injuries. One of Bulaga’s replacements, Storm Norton failed to showcase himself in an appropriate manner while especially struggling in pass protection. Justin Herbert is a legitimate franchise quarterback and the Chargers must better protect him going forward. The ever-difficult AFC West became even more competitive when the Denver Broncos acquired Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks earlier this week. The Chargers must take steps forward if they hope to contend for a playoff spot in 2022. Acquiring Collins would give them a better chance of doing just that.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The Raiders will almost certainly look to upgrade the right side of their offensive line this offseason. New general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels take over a playoff-worthy Raiders roster that requires some slight improvements and adjustments. Ziegler and McDaniels join the Raiders after spending time together with the New England Patriots, a franchise that has always understood the importance of receiving high-level offensive line play. Ziegler and McDaniels will carry these lessons and experiences with them going forward.
Starting right tackle Brandon Parker is set to become an unrestricted free agent and Alex Leatherwood struggled at right tackle before making a midseason move to guard. Ziegler nor McDaniels were a part of the regime that originally brought Parker and Leatherwood to Vegas, and they could look to put their own spin on things. Leatherwood struggled matching speed with opposing pass rushers on the outside, and remaining inside at guard may be the best solution for his continued development.
The AFC West just contains several elite pass rushers, and the Chargers just acquired another one in Mack. The Raiders must improve the right tackle position this offseason, or they risk derailing the success of their entire offense.