After the Saints let him hit the open market, fullback Jed Collins is headed to a reunion with a former New Orleans coach who is now the offensive coordinator in Detroit, the Lions have announced.
Collins signed a one-year contract on Wednesday with the Lions, whose offense is under the command of first-year coordinator Joe Lombardi, the Saints’ quarterbacks coach from 2009 until January. It was reportedly worth a veteran minimum of $645,000.
News of Collins’ agreement follows the Saints’ announcement Tuesday morning that they had agreed to a four-year deal with free-agent fullback Erik Lorig, who had spent the previous four seasons in Tampa Bay.
Collins is a different player than Lorig, who has only one touchdown reception and doesn’t have a single carry in the NFL but is known as a premier run blocker. In three seasons with the Saints, Collins showed he can block on runs and passes and can pick up tough short-yardage first downs.
He caught four touchdown passes and rushed for three scores during his time in New Orleans.
However, because of his experience, the lowest tender Collins — who was a restricted free agent — could’ve been offered would’ve been worth a relatively hefty $1.32 million. A tender gives teams the opportunity to match any offer sheet a restricted free agent might sign to retain the player, but the Saints chose to not extend one.
Collins spoke with ESPN on Wednesday and said he was told “throughout the offseason” his home would be in New Orleans. In fact, New Orleans is where Collins said he was living full-time with his wife, who is expecting their first child.
“I came to find out Monday night that they were moving on and that they felt had an upgrade at the position,” Collins reportedly said to ESPN’s Lions writer Michael Rothstein about the Saints.
Collins continued to Rothstein: “I’ve talked to a lot of people and keep telling myself this is the business I’m in. This is, there’s no friends in it, this is a win-first and if they feel they got a better player, that’s their decision.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to come up here and continue to work on and prove that I’m a top-tier fullback. That’s who I believe I am. Even though New Orleans didn’t go the way I thought it was going to, sometimes charge is the best thing for a person and sometimes it’s best for a career.”
On Twitter, Collins wrote Wednesday: “Couldn’t have enjoyed or appreciated my time in Nola any more” and “Excited & ready for new Chapter!”
Collins agreed to a deal with Detroit at the end of a visit there. Aside from Lombardi and Collins, safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, running back Joique Bell and running back Reggie Bush are other Lions who had previously been with the Saints.
More Saints free agency, draft tidbits
— Free-agent center Brian de la Puente, who has been a starter for the Saints since 2011, is scheduled to visit with Washington, ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported Wednesday. He has more visits lined up if he doesn’t sign there, Caplan said. Meanwhile, NFL writer Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and National Football Post said the Giants, Broncos, Patriots and Saints were all still strong possibilities for the center’s services.
— Free agent Charles Brown, who began the 2013 season as the Saints’ starting left tackle but was benched in favor of rookie Terron Armstead late in the year, is scheduled to visit the Giants, Caplan also reported Wednesday.
— Middle Tennessee State guard Josh Walker, considered a mid- or late-round draft prospect, is scheduled to visit the Saints on April 9, Wilson also reported. Another team he’ll visit with is Indianapolis, according to Wilson.
— The Saints’ re-signing backup linebacker Ramon Humber and wide receiver Joe Morgan was officially processed by the NFL on Wednesday.