Veteran offensive tackle La'el Collins signed a three-year contract with the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network previously reported a deal was being finalized.
After a deal was complete, Collins made sure to let quarterback Joe Burrow know that he was ready to get to work:
Jeremy Rauch @FOX19Jeremy
"Your new bodyguard is in town. Nobody is touching you."<br><br>La'el Collins said he called Joe Burrow right after signing the deal. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/FOX19?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@fox19</a> (Video courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/Bengals?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Bengals</a>) <a href="https://t.co/TGTs6dgGZe">pic.twitter.com/TGTs6dgGZe</a>
Collins, 28, was released by the Dallas Cowboys in March, a move that saved the cap-strapped team $10 million. The Cowboys shopped him on the trade market before making the roster cut, per ESPN's Todd Archer, but his large salary proved prohibitive.
When healthy, Collins is one of the better right tackles. According to Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, he's "earned 70.0-plus PFF pass-blocking grades in three straight seasons."
Anthony Treash of PFF added that Collins "ranks fifth among all right tackles in PFF grade since 2019 (missed all of 2020 but played 1,743 snaps in 2019 and 2021)."
Staying on the field has been an issue, however. Hip surgery cost him the entirety of the 2020 season, and a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy led to a five-game suspension last season.
Still, the Cowboys have routinely had one of the top offensive lines in recent seasons, and a healthy Collins was always a huge factor in that success. That made Collins a logical target for teams in need of an upgrade at right tackle, and Cincinnati swooped in.
Per Archer, the Bengals were one of the teams to inquire about Collins in trade talks before his release, so signing him always made sense.
The Bengals have done an excellent job this offseason improving the offensive line in front of burgeoning superstar Joe Burrow, also signing guard Alex Cappa and center Ted Karras. What was a weakness last season, even amid a run to the Super Bowl, has become a strength.