The Cowboys had one of the league's most dominant offensive lines last season. They have now added a first-round caliber talent as an undrafted free agent.
Former LSU tackle La'el Collins signed a three-year deal, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, who added the deal is worth a fully guaranteed $1.7 million, an unprecedented number for a player who was not selected in the draft and the max that Collins could have been offered.
Collins is currently working to clear his name in a Louisiana police investigation into the murder of Brittany Mills. Collins met with Baton Rouge police Monday and is not considered a suspect. Mills, 29, was pregnant at the time of her death and had a previous relationship with the LSU star. Rapoport reported on Wednesday that test results showed Collins is not the father of the baby who died in Baton Rouge, per a source informed of the results. The legal situation delayed Collins' entry into the NFL.
The move caps a busy few days for Collins, in which he met with various Dolphins players and Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan. The signing also continues a high-risk offseason for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Dallas gambled on Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory in the second round of this year's draft despite some doubt surrounding his ability to handle the rigors of pro football. Gregory and Collins have the same agent, Deryk Gilmore.
On the field, there will be a rush to say that Dallas got three first-round picks for the price of one and at the moment, it certainly appears like a coup if all goes according to plan. That is a big if. Collins' struggles in pass protection could prolong his development. Gregory could struggle under the bright lights.
But at the moment, Dallas looks to have the ability to slide Collins in at right tackle or left guard and get a projected Day 1 starter. The team already has first-round picks Tyron Smith (left tackle), Zack Martin (right guard) and Travis Frederick (center) all entering, or playing in the midst of their prime.
At least on paper, it would have to be considered the best offensive line in football if Collins is the player scouts and analysts think he can be. That's why Jones was so aggressive in signing Collins.
Reports out of Dallas suggest the owner rolled out the red carpet and had the entire team behind him. The details on the contract are unique for an undrafted free agent, and the contract is not the only unprecedented situation at work here. Dallas' depth is envious to any team that has hoped to play power football.
Jones has to be thrilled. Though he's never been afraid to make a mistake, the mad rush to improve on his best team in nearly a decade is palpable. Romo just turned 35. Jason Witten, another franchise cornerstone, just turned 33. Dez Bryant is nearing a point where he might set the market for wide receiver deals in the future.
In short, now is the time to strike.