After spending his first two years in the NFL in Jacksonville, Collins signed a one-year deal with the Bears last offseason. He served a one-game suspension to start the campaign for violating the league's substance abuse policy and was inactive until Week 8. He went on to play in the following nine games, serving as a backup to nose tackle Stephen Paea. He also rotated at the 3-technique position.
According to Pro Football Focus, Collins played 247 snaps last year. He had nine tackles, no sacks, nine QB hurries and seven run stops. Overall, he was a solid producer for the Bears as the club's No. 4 defensive tackle. Yet he faded down the stretch and was a healthy scratch in the season finale.
The lowest level RFA tender the Bears could offer Collins is $1.32 million. The club has anywhere between $3 million-$7 million in cap space, depending on your source, and just cannot afford to pay a backup who has never started a game in his three-year career that much money.
That's not to say the club won't bring Collins back but it will have to be at a reduced price. Collins said as much this afternoon, saying also that he would like to return to the Windy City.
Free agency begins this Tuesday. If Collins receives interest from other NFL teams willing to pay him in the seven figures, he may be quick to sign elsewhere and the Bears will instantly lose quality defensive-tackle depth.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.