Last up in the free agency series, we looked at offensive tackle Jared Gaither and asked whether or not he would be the missing piece to protect either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent next month and according to the poll, 73% of the voters believe that the Arizona Cardinals should target him. Although he has had some health issues, he is a highly effective player both in the run and pass protection. When he is healthy, Gaither is among the best offensive tackles in the league.
For the fourth option, we will examine a player that most of you may have never even heard of. In fact, he is not even a starter for the current team that he plays for. Anthony Collins is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13th and there is a strong possibility that he will not return to Cincinnati to play with the Bengals. So should the Cardinals scoop him up when they get the chance?
Although Collins is buried on the offensive line depth chart behind Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith, he has still had enough game experience to show the world that he has what it takes to play in the NFL.
Collins played in a total of five games for the Bengals in 2011, starting two of them at the right tackle spot. He also took 44 snaps as the blindside protector to Andy Dalton, according to Pro Football Focus. In all, Collins played a total of 89 pass blocking snaps and allowed no sacks, no quarterback hits and just one pressure.
In 2010, Collins was on the field for 151 passing attempts and allowed no sacks, no QB hits and three pressures. I think we are starting to see a trend here.
Although his field time is limited, Anthony Collins has proved that he can be extremely effective once he gets his opportunities. He just so happens to sit behind another outstanding player in Whitworth and their former first round pick, Andre Smith. The Bengals are $60 million under the cap for next season, but if they want to keep Collins, they'll have to pony up what will likely be a starter's type of contract. At this point, I am not so sure they would be willing to do that.
So should the Arizona Cardinals offer him that type of deal? He has the ability to play both tackle positions effectively and he plays with an edge that is hard to find in linemen. He would immediately come in and provide and upgrade over Levi Brown, Brandon Keith and Jeremy Bridges, but he will want a handsome reward for doing so.
Collins is the fourth best free agent tackle available, according to Pro Football Focus, but at the age of 26 with so much potential and no major injury history, he might be number one on my list. Although his body of work isn't there, both the floor and the ceiling seem to be pretty high for this guy. If the Cards do not draft a young prospect at the position, I would think Collins is their second best option. In fact, because of his lack of playing time, he may come a bit cheaper than guys like Gaither or Demetrius Bell.
What do you think? Should the Arizona Cardinals target Anthony Collins in free agency? Tell us in the comments below and vote in the poll.