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Pats tried to deal Collins to Texans before trading LB to Browns

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The Patriots trade of star linebacker Jamie Collins was the turning point to their defense. Collins, who was prone to freelancing and missing his assignments, was headed to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third-round pick, while the Patriots unified inside their locker room.

The trade of Collins -- one of their most athletic players -- was mostly kept under wraps. But they did plenty of due diligence and shopping beforehand.

The trade came on a Monday, but on the prior Thursday and Friday, the Patriots called teams like the Eagles, Texans and more. Many scenarios were discussed, sources say.

The two juiciest: The Patriots asked for frustrated receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a potential trade for Collins -- offensive building block in need of an extension for defensive building block in need of an extension. That was a non-starter for the Texans, even with Hopkins battling uneven quarterback play.

The other offer the Patriots spent weeks researching: Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph for Collins. New England loves him. Though intriguing, Joseph is so valuable to Houston that the team would not part with him.

In the end, Collins ended up with a 4-year, $50-milion extension while the Patriots wound up in Super Bowl after going 7-1 in the regular season sans the linebacker.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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