The New England Patriots decision to trade linebacker Jamie Collins on Monday surprised the football world, including at least one member of the Patriots roster.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty said Monday that when he learned about New England trading the linebacker to Cleveland, he was absolutely stunned.
“Jamie is arguably our best defensive player,” McCourty told CSNNE.com. “When you get a guy like Jamie who was here for four years on the team, a very productive player, to lose him is a bit shocking to everybody on the team.”
New England was set to have three important defenders hit free agency next spring, and it was highly unlikely the team would be able to retain all three. However, the trade that dealt defensive end Chandler Jones, one of the three pending free agents, to the Cardinals was expected to make it easier for the Patriots to re-sign the other two free agents, linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Collins.
Perhaps that wasn’t the case at all, and this is another deal to unload a player the Patriots knew they weren’t going to be able to re-sign long term. However, that doesn’t answer why New England wouldn’t keep the linebacker this season since Bill Belichick has a strong chance of making it back to the AFC Championship Game for a sixth straight season and to a seventh Super Bowl. Perhaps there’s some underlining reason, but neither the public nor the Patriots players are aware of why.
The linebacker is in his fourth year NFL season and has 43 total tackles along with three pass defenses, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack this season. Last year, he made his first Pro Bowl while registering 89 total tackles, six pass defenses, 5.5 sacks and one interception .