Unless you’re Bill Belichick — if you are, thanks for reading — you likely were pretty shocked at the New England Patriots’ decision to trade Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns on Monday.
After all, the outside linebacker made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and looked like one of the best players on New England’s defense. He’s already recorded a sack, a forced fumble and two interceptions in eight games this season.
So, why did the Patriots give Collins up for a mid-round conditional draft pick? Michael Lombardi, who spent two-plus years in New England as an assistant to the coaching staff from 2014 to 2016 and is a close Belichick confidant, suggested Monday on Twitter that the 27-year-old wasn’t fitting well in the Patriots’ system.
In an interview with FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd, though, Lombardi took his criticism of Collins a whole lot further.
“I used to tell Jamie in the meetings: ‘We are as good as you want us to be.’ But there’s times where Jamie just didn’t really want to be,” Lombardi said. “He played on an 0-11 team in Southern Miss., and sometimes he plays like he’s still on that team. And I think, at this point, (the Patriots) just said, ‘You know what? We’re not going to sign him in free agency; it’s time to move him on.’
“To me, this was all about sending a message to all the other guys in the locker room.”
Lombardi went on The Bill Simmons Podcast later in the afternoon and flat-out said Collins wasn’t getting it done.
“Well, I think Collins has played poorly all season,” Lombardi said. “He’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year. (The Patriots) had no interest in really signing him for next year, and the way he played through the first eight games, he was getting demoted within each game.”
Collins was on the field for just 62 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. And while the Browns and head coach Hue Jackson appear very happy with the trade, Lombardi thinks Collins will fall flat in Cleveland.
“He’s not going to play any harder for the Browns. He’s not going to do anything,” Lombardi told Simmons. “He just did not play well. I watched the (Patriots-Bills) game tape this morning, and their defense just sticks on blocks. It’s not very good. They’re not playing with any physicality or emotion, and when they play against a good team, they are going to have trouble.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images