Collins, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Bengals after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys during the 2022 offseason, had been rehabbing his left knee since tearing his ACL last Christmas Eve.
Collins has already received interest from “nearly a dozen teams,” according to Jordan Schultz of The Score, who adds Collins will meet with a UCLA doctor to assess his recovery on Monday.
Where are Collins’ best landing spots around the NFL now that he’s available on the open market?
Best Landing Spots For Free Agent OL La’el Collins
New England Patriots
The Patriots have more offensive line injury concerns than any club in the NFL. Right tackle Riley Reiff is already on injured reserve, while guards Mike Onwenu and Cole Strange both missed Sunday’s game against the Eagles. Trent Brown, David Andrews, and Sidy Sow joined Onwenu and Strange on this week’s injury report.
Ezekiel Elliott said free agent OT La'el Collins is one of his best friends. They played together in Dallas. Said it "would be great" to have Collins join the Patriots.
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) September 14, 2023
Collins has played only right tackle since 2017, but he lined up at left guard for the Cowboys from 2015-16. That positional versatility should make him attractive to New England, who can use all the help they can get.
Bills right tackle Spencer Brown was projected as the weak link along Buffalo’s offensive line heading into the 2022 campaign, and he lived up to that description against the Jets in Week 1, allowing five of the 17 pressures surrendered by the Bills while also committing a false start.
The Jets defense had some awesome sequences where they put consecutive dominant plays together to get BUF's offense off the field.
This sequence starts with a bull rush and sack from JFM where he tosses Spencer Brown into Allen like a ragdoll. Stop playing with this man!
— Dan (@JetsAndJollof) September 13, 2023
Buffalo worked to improve its interior offensive line this offseason by signing free agent Connor McGovern and using a second-round pick on O’Cyrus Torrence. Now, they could have the opportunity to bolster their tackle depth chart by adding Collins in-season.
The Dolphins’ offensive line held up surprisingly well against Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, and the Chargers’ front Sunday — and that was without the services of Terron Armstead, who was held out with a knee injury but has since returned to practice in advance of Week 2.
Still, it’s hard to argue that Miami couldn’t stand to add more depth up front. Boasting Kendall Lamm, Liam Eichenberg, and Collins as their top three reserves off the bench could give the Dolphins the deepest offensive line they’ve had in recent memory.
New York Jets
Jets left tackle Duane Brown tried to cut block Bills pass rusher Leonard Floyd on the play that led to Aaron Rodgers’ season-ending injury, but it was hardly Brown’s fault that Rodgers went down with an Achilles tear.
But New York’s offensive line remains a problem. Alijah Vera-Tucker was the only Jets offensive lineman to post a solid performance against Buffalo on Monday night, and Brown and right tackle Mekhi Becton are already on the Week 2 injury report.
Collins isn’t a superstar, but the Jets would probably feel better about turning to him as a potential tackle replacement than Billy Turner or Max Mitchell. New York is clearly interested in adding OL talent, as they auditioned free agents Dennis Kelly, Cameron Erving, and DJ Fluker this week.
New York Giants
The Giants’ offensive line got obliterated by the Cowboys’ elite front seven on Sunday night, sacrificing a whopping 27 pressures and seven sacks against Micah Parsons and Co. To make matters worse, left tackle Andrew Thomas — the only reliable member of New York’s OL — is questionable for Week 2 with a hamstring strain.
Mark Glowinski pic.twitter.com/oJE8ruKkeF
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinner_) September 12, 2023
Right guard Mark Glowinski and right tackle Evan Neal were especially egregious against Dallas. New York isn’t about to bench Neal, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but Collins has the talent to usurp Glowinski in short order.
The injury bug seems to hit the Ravens early season, and it started early this year. Not only did Baltimore lose running back J.K. Dobbins for the season, but left tackle Ronnie Stanley (knee) and center Tyler Linderbaum (ankle).
We don’t know if Collins will even be ready by the time Stanley is ready to return, but Collins would make sense for the Ravens nonetheless. Incumbent RT Morgan Moses can play on the blindside, which would create a spot for Collins at right tackle if Stanley continues to deal with injury issues.
Carolina’s preseason offensive line struggles carried to Week 1, when they gave up 19 pressures to the Falcons in a season-opening loss.
Already without right guard Austin Corbett as he recovers from an ACL injury, the Panthers also lost left guard Brady Christensen, who will miss the remainder of the year after suffering a biceps injury against Atlanta.
Collins would have to be willing to play guard in Carolina, and he might prefer to land with a surefire contender instead of a club that might struggle to compete in 2023. But the Panthers could surely use him.
While Carolina is without both starting guards, Seattle could be down both of its starting tackles.
Right tackle Abraham Lucas will miss at least four games after being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Left tackle Charles Cross left Week 1 with a toe injury and didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice.
The Seahawks have already added some tackle help, signing Raiqwon O’Neal from the Buccaneers’ practice squad and McClendon Curtis off the Raiders’ taxi squad.
They also signed veteran tackle Jason Peters, but he’s 41 years old. If Seattle wants to look for an option born after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Collins could be on its radar.