Why the Cincinnati Bengals Cut OT La’el Collins

The release of La'el Collins helps the Cincinnati Bengals manage their books -- and comes just days after Joe Burrow's massive deal.

The Cincinnati Bengals have released offensive tackle La’el Collins from the reserve/physically unable to perform list, making the eight-year veteran a free agent.

Collins had been rehabbing his left knee since tearing his ACL on Christmas Eve in Week 16 at New England.

La’El Collins Release Clears Cincinnati Bengals Cap Space

Collins signed a three-year, $21 million contract in March 2022. He was due a base salary of $4.5 million with another $2.4 million possible in per-game active bonuses. His release clears up some $6 million in cap space which the Bengals can use either this year or next.

Bengals coaches had said how pleased they were with Collins’ progress, as he was a regular fixture at practices during OTAs and training camp this year.

His release likely is a ripple effect of clearing some salary in wake of the record-setting, five-year, $275 million extension quarterback Joe Burrow signed Saturday.

Collins got off to a rough start to his first season with the Bengals, missing almost all of training camp with a back injury that the team continued to manage by resting him during Wednesday practices during the regular season.

Collins’ performance improved as the season progressed. He was looking more like the tackle the team thought it was signing back in March as the Bengals ripped off 10 wins in a row to win a second consecutive AFC North title.

The addition of left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. this offseason and the ensuing transfer of Jonah Williams to right tackle made Collins an expensive depth piece.

But it was a policy that made sense, given that his ACL tear at New England started a string of O-line injuries after the team had started the same five offensive linemen for the first 15 games. Those injuries took their toll in the postseason as the offense struggled to move the ball the way it had during the 10-game winning streak.

The Bengals initially appeared willing to keep Collins as a pricey insurance policy, with his ability to play both tackle and guard making him a likely first man off the bench once he returned to full health.

Instead, the Bengals will be counting on 2021 fourth-round pick D’Ante Smith as their swing tackle and 2022 waiver claim Max Scharping as their top sub on the interior.

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