Over at MMQB, Peter King's site, they have the story of how La'el Collins became a Dallas Cowboy and it is one of the most detailed accounts around. All Cowboys fans should give it a read. There are two particularly interesting directions the article takes. One lays out the legal case, the reasons why Collins was connected to the murder, and what he and his team did about it. That is good knowledge to have as a fan. But the second part is the more interesting part specifically for Cowboys fans as we learn the process of how Collins came to Big D, and how close we came to not getting him. Also, the strategy Collins' agents took to not get him drafted caused a lot of confusion and consternation among multiple people.
It really doesn't do it justice, but I will excerpt some of the key paragraphs, but in the end, go read it for yourself.
Jerry The Closer. Say what you will about Jerry Jones, and there has been plenty said about him, but one thing the man knows how to do is close a deal.
Fast forward to May 6, four days after the draft’s conclusion. His 6-4, 305-pound frame is parked on a couch in Jerry Jones’ Texas mansion, and Collins is listening to Tony Romo, members of the Cowboys’ offensive line and coaches make their pitches. Jones talks about persevering through hard times, and how fighting through them molds you as a man. One-by-one, the players assure La’el and his mother, Loyetta, that Jerry will have his back.
Dinner is shrimp and a massive cut of steak and heaps of football conversation. “For the first time,” he tells his agent, “I really felt like somebody had seen me for who I am.”
The Collins' Gamble. La'el Collins' reps chose a strategy of not getting him drafted after the first few rounds passed. Their logic?
One team rep tells McCartney they’re considering drafting Collins in the fifth round. “I’m thinking, That’s the worst thing for us,” McCartney says. “I ran the numbers. If a guy is drafted, he signs a four-year deal. If he gets a three-year undrafted-free-agent contract, plays well and often, then gets the first-round tender and the player participation pool bonus money, he could be paid better than the 33rd pick in the draft.”
Some teams express contempt for Collins’ bold move. Others call his agents to gauge their position. Are they bluffing? Six teams tell the agency they’re going to draft him on Saturday, the third day of the draft.
“If you draft him, he’s going into next year’s draft,” McCartney tells them. Was it a bluff?
“We can put it on the record now: We were never going back in the draft,” Smith says of waiting for the 2016 draft. “If someone had drafted him, we would’ve had a long, long discussion about it, but at the end of the day you can’t go back in the draft. He could get injured, gain weight, or 10 great tackles could come out. Too many risks.”
And one team, not identified in the article but almost certainly the St. Louis Rams, came very close to drafting Collins in the seventh round.
“There was a team that had drafted four offensive linemen,” Smith says, “and they said, ‘We’re taking him.’ And I texted back, ‘You’re going to embarrass yourself. You’re going to waste this pick.’ “And they passed. And now he’s a UDFA.”
Tony Romo and Jason Garrett make a difference. As the Collins' group were deciding where to sign, a couple of points were important to them.
“We felt it would be important for a place that had stability at QB, coach, offensive line coach,” McCartney says. “Not for one year, but the next few years. We wanted a QB that spits the ball out quickly, because we all see QBs who hold onto the ball, take sacks, and then you go blame the young blocker.”
Collins’ agents eliminate 16 teams from contention and give briefings to the remaining suitors. The contract would be non-negotiable. Collins would get a guaranteed contract with no offsets, second- and third-year maximum salaries for a UDFA, and the remainder of Team X’s signing bonus cash pool.
[Collins] wants to be close to home, and he doesn’t want to be anywhere cold. He books a trip to Dallas. Jones and Collins talk into the night, and Collins understands that he’ll have the chance to start immediately if he can beat out ho-hum left guard Ronald Leary.
That last line lets us know for sure it's Ron Leary who is in danger of losing his spot. I wouldn't exactly call him ho-hum, he's done a pretty good job, but Collins is likely the future there.
I've excerpted some long parts of the article, but there is much more in there. So go read it.