Everyone's going after La'el Collins right now, which makes you wonder why they didn't draft him two days ago. But apparently the police investigation has concluded, he's not a suspect in the case of his murdered ex-girlfriend, and now teams want him. Like, say, the Buffalo Bills, who had dinner with him yesterday.
The Bucs have to make a push for Collins, if only because they could use another offensive lineman. They drafted Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet in the second round, and both are projected to start this year, but Collins is better than both of them and this would give the Bucs a lot of extra insurance in case one of Marpet or Smith isn't ready on day one. And one member of the Bucs agrees:
Who's recruiting La'el Collins most aggressively? #Bucs QB Jameis Winston is right up there. Pushing hard for Collins to come to Tampa Bay.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) May 5, 2015
Winston has reached out to Collins multiple times in the last 24 hours selling the idea of playing together. #Bucs could certainly use him.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) May 5, 2015
This is where having a franchise quarterback comes in handy: players love to play with quarterbacks they think can win. And everyone who's played with Winston raves about him. His presence is genuinely a quality recruiting tool for Tampa Bay, and one they're going to get a lot of use out of for however long his career is, assuming he succeeds.
Collins was widely seen as a high first-round pick and one of the top three offensive linemen in the 2015 NFL draft, before his pregnant ex-girlfriend was murdered and the police brought him in for questioning. That event alone was enough to see him tumbling out of the draft, helped by his agent's assertion that he would sit out the year if a team drafted him after the third round.
That assertion has arguably helped him: he can now sign an undrafted free agent contract which a team can fully guarantee, unlike those of late-round draft picks. And he'll hit the market after three years instead of four. But no team has a financial advantage in trying to sign Collins: they're restricted by the terms of the CBA, which means they can offer him a three-year deal with fully guaranteed minimum salaries, and approximately a $86,000 signing bonus.
So if the Bucs are going to get Collins to come to Tampa, this is how they're going to have to do it: with the promise of a franchise quarterback and a starting spot.