By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Jamie Collins played like an All-Pro at times in his first stint with the Patriots. But the veteran linebacker didn’t show that ability on a consistent basis. Now in his second go-round in New England, Collins has a chance to prove he can consistently play like he did only in flashes.
The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride confirmed on Tuesday that Collins is re-signing with the Patriots, becoming the latest Patriot to return to New England after spending time in another uniform. Running back Brandon Bolden came back this offseason after a year with the Dolphins, while safety Patrick Chung is still in his second stint with the Pats after playing in 2013 for the Eagles.
In two-plus seasons with the Browns, Collins started all 30 games he appeared in, including all 16 games in 2018. He most recently posted 104 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 7 quarterback hits for an improving Cleveland defense. He played the second-most defensive snaps on the team with 1,067 and never played fewer than 51 in a game.
Despite the numbers, Collins struggled with inconsistency in Cleveland just like he did in New England. The issue with Collins has never been his talent. It was that he’d look like a Von Miller clone one week and disappear entirely the next.
Speaking of numbers, the dollar figures aren’t likely to be huge for Collins on this new deal. Major paydays are behind him now that he’s been jettisoned from both teams he played for in his career. He turns 30 years old on Oct. 20. So you can reasonably expect the Patriots’ financial commitment to be minimal.
Perhaps that can help motivate Collins to unlock his potential. There’s a clear consistency roadblock that’s held him back from being a premier linebacker in the NFL. Even if he could be 75 percent of how he looks when he’s at his best, but does it on a weekly basis, Collins could be beyond useful for the Patriots.
Bill Belichick certainly knows how to use Collins. The question is whether the linebacker can put himself to his best possible use in every game. That’s typically a hallmark of Belichick defenders. Collins is different. The talent is definitely still there, but the consistency never has been.
Collins enters a bit of a crowded depth chart and will likely be one slip-up away from Belichick moving on from him for a second time. But, like he has for his whole career, he brings a rare level of explosiveness and versatility as a linebacker who can both pressure the quarterback and make plays in coverage when he’s on. It’s time to see if he has what it takes to be on all the time.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.