With the passing of the NFL deadline to franchise players, it has become apparent that the Cincinnati Bengals will go into 2014 without two players who were keys to the team’s recent success. Michael Johnson is the most recognizable name, and his absence will be felt, but the biggest loss in free agency might be offensive tackle Anthony Collins.
Collins was a fourth round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Kansas. Since his selection, he has been one of the team’s most important backups, filling in at both tackle positions when injuries have arisen. As a reserve, he hasn’t gotten a chance to be a full-time starter, but when he’s been called upon, he has always been ready to perform at a high level.
This past season, with injuries all along the offensive line, Collins got a chance to really shine, and took full advantage. He played in 15 of the team’s 16 games, starting seven, and played nearly as well as any starting tackle in the league. In doing so, he garnered plenty of attention, and potentially made himself a lot of money. Collins proved that he is a starting caliber player, capable of manning the left tackle spot for someone. He’s a big, strong athlete who excels in pass blocking, though he could use some polish in the running game. However, he more than makes up for it with his ability to negate an opponent’s best pass rusher.
The Bengals, like other successful teams, have to know how to manage their roster and their money. Collins earned the right to a pay raise, and deserves his chance to start somewhere. He never got the chance to be a big start in Cincinnati, but fans of the team know his true value. He will be missed.