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The case for and against the Cowboys re-signing free agent Maliek Collins

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He might be a little more important than you realize.

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

With so many of their own free agents to contest with, the front office of the Dallas Cowboys must figure out who’s staying and who’s going this offseason. Interest has already been shown (or not shown in the case of Byron Jones) for some of the bigger names on their roster, but it’s easy to forget about some of the other guys hitting the free agent market as well.

Yesterday, we examined the case for and against hanging on to veteran receiver Randall Cobb. Today, we’ll take a look at Maliek Collins and try to determine the best course of action for the Cowboys.

Career Stats:

(courtesy of Pro Football Reference)

What have you done for me lately?

It’s easy to overlook the Cowboys soft spoken defensive tackle as he doesn’t light up the stat sheet. His four sacks last season is par for the course as that’s pretty much what he’s averaged throughout his career. Some will pitch that he’s injury prone as it seems as if he’s always dealing with some type of injury. That may be so, but Collins doesn’t let it affect his availability. In his four-year career, he’s only missed a total of three games. Hurt or not, he plays.

The DT situation

The Cowboys have some decisions to make at the defensive tackle position as Collins joins Christian Covington and Daniel Ross as free agents hitting the market this offseason. Antwaun Woods is an exclusive rights free agent, which means the team has total control on bringing him back for super cheap. Many expect his return to be just a formality, but he has yet to be re-signed. And veteran flex defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford is still under contract for one more season; however, some believe he could be released to free up cap space. That leaves Trysten Hill and Daniel Wise as the only two defensive tackles signed beyond the 2020 season.

The case for re-signing Collins

Collins is a very underrated piece to this defense and keeping him on the roster would be good for this team. With last year’s rookie Hill showing little promise at this point, the team would suddenly have a big void if Collins departed. Collins demonstrates a consistent ability to get after the quarterback, even if it doesn’t result in a sack. It’s impressive to see this guy keep fighting the way he does, and this type of disruptive presence in the trenches isn’t easily replaced. The first step is there, the relentless pursuit is there, and the frequency of which he disrupts the play cannot be brushed aside.

Health may be holding him back some, but one has to wonder just how good he can be if he can ever get his body right. The talent is there. In his first year in the league, he made Next Gen Stats all-rookie team as his ability to get off the snap was on full display.

Averaging 4.28 seconds from snap to sack, Collins recorded the fastest average time to sack among rookie interior defensive linemen and was also 5th among all interior pass rushers in fastest average time to sack.

Make no mistake about it, Collins gets after it.

The case for letting Collins walk

This one is going to come down to money. When the Cowboys shopped free agency last season, they stood back and waited. While players like Sheldon Richardson ($12.3 M), Malik Jackson ($10 M), and Mike Daniels ($8.1 M) all got big deals, the Cowboys waited for the money to come off the table so they could get Covington on the cheap ($2.5 M). Expect the team to do more of the same this year.

What will be interesting is to see where Collins fits in all this. Again, there are the premiere guys (Chris Jones, D.J. Reader, and Leonard Williams) who will command big money, but things will eventually level off and there will be some bargain finds in free agency. The only question is - will Collins be one of those bargains?

There are also some starting caliber defensive tackles that could be available in the first two days of the draft. The team selected Collins in the third round of 2016. Could they turn around and find his replacement four years later? For a team that is already shelling out some big cash for their star players, is defensive tackle a spot where should just bite the bullet and go cheap?

Poll

How should the Cowboys handle Maliek Collins?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    He’s too valuable, pay him $5 M to stick around
    (390 votes)
  • 56%
    If you can get him for $3.5 M, keep him
    (603 votes)
  • 7%
    He’s easily replaceable, let him walk
    (79 votes)
1072 votes total Vote Now