The Baltimore Ravens entered the offseason with multiple glaring needs, most notably on the offensive line. The unit struggled with inconsistency throughout the 2021 season, and injuries also played a massive role. If John Harbaugh’s squad is going to improve in the upcoming season, it must emphasize protecting Lamar Jackson.
It’s undeniable that Jackson is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL with the football in his hands. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be effective when playing hero ball. The front office desperately needs to rebuild the line, and La’el Collins could be a massive step in the right direction.
Trading for the Dallas Cowboys star offensive tackle would prove to the former MVP that the team is serious about keeping him upright.
The Cowboys are making La’el Collins available for trade
The Dallas Cowboys have made multiple changes along their offensive line, including promoting Terence Steele to the starting right tackle position. As a result, the team views La’el Collins as expendable.
According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, Dallas has granted the 6-foot-4, 320-pound offensive tackle permission to seek a trade.
Collins has started 71 games since joining the Cowboys in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. However, he has dealt with injuries and suspensions over the past two seasons.
If Dallas can trade the LSU product, it will free up $1.3 million in salary-cap space. While not an insane figure, it would open more room for the aggressive front office to make moves.
Any team that trades for Collins would take on his salary of $10 million per year over the next three seasons. For the Baltimore Ravens, that kind of deal could make them jump at the chance to land the big man.
Why the Ravens should make the call to Jerry Jones
La’el Collins could be just what the doctor ordered for the Ravens. Improving the offensive line is a point of emphasis for general manager Eric DeCosta and the front office in the offseason.
Injuries decimated the entire Ravens locker room, including several members of the offensive line. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley only played in the 2021 season opener before an injury sidelined him the rest of the way. Alejandro Villanueva attempted to fill in, but he struggled. He’s now retired, further heightening the need for depth.
The Cowboys’ positioning seems to be to move Collins without price in mind. Moving him for a small return is better than no return at all if the team releases him. Baltimore isn’t in the best position financially, so that would be good news. The team has $16.4 million available in cap space, just under the league average (16.7 million).
Availability has been an issue recently. However, if the 28-year-old can stay on the field, he could be a valuable asset for John Harbaugh’s squad. Pro Football Focus gave Collins a grade of 82.0 for the 2021 season. He also earned an 86.4 grade in 2019.
Collins has the potential to be a cornerstone piece on the Ravens offensive line, so it’s certainly worth calling Jerry Jones and company.
Lamar Jackson’s success hinges on Baltimore’s ability to protect him
If the Ravens are able to land La’el Collins, Lamar Jackson should be extremely thankful. Whether he’ll admit it or not, inconsistent offensive line play is one of the most pressing issues hindering the trajectory of the offense.
Jackson undoubtedly deserved the MVP award in 2019, but he could not have done it alone. He had a solid supporting cast, including a formidable offensive line. To regain dominance again, Baltimore needs to stay healthy and get better along the front line.
The Ravens allowed 51 sacks during the 2021 season, which was the second-most in the NFL. Injuries aside, that’s a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t matter how good the quarterback is if the team can’t protect him.
Baltimore has Super Bowl aspirations, and the front office has done an excellent job building a talented roster around its superstar. Still, the Ravens must make the necessary moves to turn their dreams into reality.
Perhaps, La’el Collins and Ronnie Stanley as the bookend tackles could be enough to speed up Lamar Jackson’s contract negotiations.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.