Way back when Jalen Collins was first suspended, we noted the anger under the surface of everything Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff said and wondered whether the team might cut ties with their former second round pick when he returned from his ten game suspension. As the year wore on and the team didn’t get much out of their cornerback options behind Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Brian Poole, it seemed a bit less likely.
Today, however, it is clear that the team had the decision to cut Collins in mind for a long time. With Collins just becoming eligible to return from his 10 game suspension, the second such suspension in his young career, the Falcons decided to set him loose.
Collins had played in 24 games, started eight, and played pretty well down the stretch in 2016, including in playoff games against the Packers, Seahawks, and Patriots with Desmond Trufant sidelined. As a long, rangy cornerback with physicality, he seemed like an obvious choice to eventually supplant Desmond Trufant or Robert Alford when he was first selected, but both of those players have big contracts and Collins clearly never worked out the way the team envisioned.
The Falcons will roll on with the likes of Trufant, Alford and Poole, one of the better starting trios in the NFL, and fourth cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who is a terrific special teamer and intermittently useful corner. To make this move, the Falcons must have concluded that Collins wasn’t going to play his way into a major role and wasn’t a good fit for the team any longer.
I don’t think you can make a reasonable case that he couldn’t have helped this football team as depth, which means the team was either still seething over the suspension, didn’t think Collins was ever going to get with the #Brotherhood program, or wasn’t going to be able to contribute on special teams enough to get on the field. Or, frankly, all three. We just don’t know yet.
Collins will undoubtedly catch on with another team, though he hasn’t played up to his second round billing yet and would face a season-long suspension for the next infraction. It’s a deeply disappointing end to a promising career in Atlanta for Collins, but we certainly wish him well wherever he lands.