The Dallas Cowboys were powered by former running back Ezekiel Elliott for years, but he is now recruiting former teammates to the New England Patriots. The Cincinnati Bengals recently released tackle La’el Collins, and the veteran blocker now needs a new team in free agency.
Elliott was asked about the possibility of the Patriots signing Collins in a recent press session with the Boston Herald. The former Ohio State star was enthusiastic about reuniting with Collins, and the Herald says that there have been reports of the Patriots being interested in the tackle.
“I’d love to see [La’el Collins] here… He’s a load. He loves to get his hands on people. He’s going to punch. He’s going to strike the heck out of you,” Elliott said on September 14.
If New England signs Collins within the next two weeks, it would set up two exceptional homecomings for the Cowboys’ Week 4 home game against the Patriots. Elliott returning to Arlington, Texas was already going to be a big deal, but having Collins blocking his way would only add to the staging.
That being said, Collins’ future is still undetermined. The 30-year-old should have several teams interested, and New England will likely face some competition for his signature.
Collins and Elliott’s Time in Dallas
From 2016 through 2021, Elliott and Collins started together 55 times as the Cowboys built up one of the best offensive lines and rushing attacks in the NFL. Collins wasn’t quite the marquee lineman like Tyron Smith or Zack Martin, but Dallas did throw him a five-year, $50 million contract to secure his services in his second NFL deal.
While Collins and Elliott’s active playing time didn’t always sync up, that stretch was incredibly impressive for the current Patriots RB. He led the NFL in rushing yards twice (2016, 2018.) As Pro Football Reference shows, Elliott totaled 8186 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns in the time the two players spent together in Dallas.
There was a notable drop-off in production for Elliott in 2022, but that wasn’t due to Collins’ departure after the 2021 season. The rise of Tony Pollard came to a head last year, and Dallas made the switch to having the speedier, younger back as their lead guy.
But what may be old-hat for the Cowboys could be the new boost that New England has been looking for as they look to build around and protect QB Mac Jones.
Cowboys’ Jerry Jones Speaks on Possible Jets Trade
While the Cowboys’ matchup with the Patriots looms down the road, Dallas has the New York Jets as their second game of the 2023 regular season, just days removed from Jets QB Aaron Rodgers tearing his ACL.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was recently asked about if Dallas could trade backup QB Cooper Rush to New York, and his answer on September 13 was fairly clear: the team thinks keeping Rush is the smart move.
“I can’t imagine what it would be [to make that type of trade]. But the facts are, just as they do, we could need Rush in a play. And we did last year. We did the year before. Boy, especially when you got all the promise we got, to compromise yourself with the depth at that position would be very unlikely,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan per The Athletic’s Jon Machota.
He doesn’t rule out a move completely, but he makes his stance fairly clear.