FOXBORO — As the New England Patriots begin to turn their attention to their Week 3 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, they may be looking to add some familiar help at linebacker.
According to multiple reports, former Pats linebacker Jamie Collins was hosted by the team on Tuesday for a free-agent visit, just two days after New England’s 17-14 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While linebacker may have been considered a position of strength for the Patriots, especially after what was considered a strong defensive effort on Sunday, they unexpectedly may be in need of some assistance. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley left last Sunday's win with a back injury. If he is to be further slowed, the Pats bringing Collins back to the Foxboro fold makes sense.
Collins would be returning for a fourth tour of duty with the Patriots. He was drafted by New England in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the 2013 draft. During his first stint with the Pats, Collins tallied 206 solo tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 23 quarterback hits and 10.5 sacks across 50 games (41 starts).
In 2016, Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns mid-season. He played in 30 games with the team, posting 204 tackles and seven sacks. He was released by Cleveland on March 6. At that time, the Browns also had tried to trade him but could not find any suitors.
In May 2019, Collins agreed to a deal which would reunite him with head coach Bill Belichick in New England. In his second stint with the Pats, Collins looked more comfortable in the team’s defensive schemes. He finished the season with 58 tackles, 10 quarterback hits, 7 sacks, and 3 interceptions with one touchdown, before signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the Detroit Lions.
Having returned for his third tour of duty with New England last October, the 32-year-old added a veteran presence to the linebackers room, while occasionally flashing some of his dynamic athleticism. Overall, Collins appeared in 10 games, logging 20 total tackles, three passes-defensed, one sack and one interception. Despite the affinity afforded to him by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, the Pats did not make a contract offer to Collins, in favor of providing greater opportunities for some of the younger linebackers currently on the roster.
At his best, Collins is still one of the more dynamic talents in the league. He can still provide capable contributions as an off-ball starter, as well as explosiveness at the linebacker position on third down. Should the Patriots wish to re-enlist his services, they will undoubtedly hope that Collins’ familiarity with their system could help to provide additional stability to the Patriots defense.
New England currently employs Bentley, as well as Anfernee Jennings, Matthew Judon, Raekwon McMillan, Jahlani Tavai, Josh Uche and Mack Wilson at the linebacker position on the active roster. Cameron McGrone and Harvey Langi are also options via New England’s practice squad.
In addition to Bentley, safety Kyle Dugger (knee) and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (back) left the game with injuries. The status of all three defenders may become a bit clearer when the Pats return to the practice fields on Wednesday to prepare for Week 3.
The Pats will welcome the 1-1 Baltimore Ravens to New England for the team’s first home game of the 2022 season. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium.
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