NFL teams on Tuesday continued their pursuit of former LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins — and that includes reuniting him with some familiar faces.
Former LSU players and current members of the Miami Dolphins met with Collins in Baton Rouge on Tuesday as pro squads fight to sign what may be one of the NFL’s most highly sought after rookie free agents.
Collins has heard from “almost every” NFL team over the past few days, sources said, including the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
He’s met with representatives of two teams: the Buffalo Bills and Dolphins. Bills coach Rex Ryan met with Collins on Monday night in Baton Rouge before a host of Dolphins players dined with the former Redemptorist star Tuesday.
Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Sheppard and Anthony Johnson, all former LSU players, met with Collins. Johnson posted on social media that he was flying to Baton Rouge from Miami “to bring my brother back to South Beach.”
He used the hashtag “LCtoMiami.”
Collins is expected to meet with several teams over the coming days. He fielded calls even throughout the draft.
Miami wants Collins “bad,” one source said. The Patriots have contacted the Collins camp and are “very” interested in the player, another source said.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder went from a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick to an undrafted free agent — a stunning free fall that began when news broke last Tuesday that Baton Rouge police wished to speak with him regarding the shooting death of a pregnant woman.
Collins met with Baton Rouge homicide detectives Monday morning as part of an investigation into the killing of a 29-year-old Brittney Mills and her baby.
Police said Collins “fully cooperated with investigators and is still not considered a suspect” in the April 24 slaying Mills and her son Brenton, who was successfully delivered after the shooting but died a week later.
A source last week said Collins was expected to take a paternity test to determine if he was the baby’s father.
The mere association with the investigation spooked NFL teams, and Collins went from likely getting a $4 million-plus signing bonus to, for now, nothing. Collins’ agent, knowing his client would not be drafted in the first round, said Collins would not sign with a team that picked him after the third round. No one took the risky move.
“We have never seen a story like this in NFL draft history,” ESPN reporter Adam Schefter said during the network’s coverage of the seven-round, 256-pick draft.
The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday that Collins has begun to eliminate teams as possible landing spots. His agents, the Sun reported, have started informing teams if they’ve made the list.
Free agents have advantages that draftees do not. They get to choose their team, and undrafted players get to free agency after three years, instead of four for draftees. They can also have their contracts restructured after two years, instead of three.
Collins will suffer a financial setback immediately.
Undrafted free agents often are offered a signing bonus of less than $10,000 — a steep drop, even, from the $50,000-plus bonuses for seventh-round players. Also, undrafted rookies are restricted to making a maximum of $1.575 million in their first three years.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.