Click Here for full video of Collins' introductory press conference.
Collins: "I had the opportunity to choose, from 32 teams, where I wanted to be. I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy."— David Helman (@HelmanDC) May 7, 2015
Collins: "I got a call from Mr. Jones a couple nights ago, & we had a long talk ... First time I thought someone had seen me for who I am."— David Helman (@HelmanDC) May 7, 2015
JG: "Everyone at LSU told us 'this is a tough young man - emotionally tough & physically tough.' We got these reports before this happened."— David Helman (@HelmanDC) May 7, 2015
Former LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins officially signed Thursday as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys. Collins reached a three-year deal that's fully guaranteed worth $1.65 million.
The Cowboys were one of many teams to pursue the projected first-round pick in the last couple days. Collins and his mother reportedly flew to Dallas Wednesday night to meet with Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones. That meeting ended with Collins agreeing to play NFL ball in Dallas.
This brings an end to one of the most bizarre stories relating to the NFL Draft. Collins has been in the headlines for more than a week, since it was reported that Baton Rouge police sought him for questioning in the murder of his former girlfriend. Brittney Mills, then eight-months pregnant, was shot and killed about two weeks ago. Emergency responders were able to deliver her son, but he passed away a week later.
Collins was never named a suspect, but NFL teams were still too hesitant to draft a player with even the faintest connection to a murder investigation. So Collins went undrafted, unable to officially clear his name before the draft.
Collins met with BRPD investigators Monday. BRPD released a statement hours later that reaffirmed Collins was still not a suspect in the shooting. Collins also submitted to a paternity test during that meeting, and the results were negative, meaning Collins was not the father of Mills' deceased son.
Police are still searching for the murderer.
That was all the clearance NFL teams needed to finally pursue Collins. He had unofficial meetings with Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan and several players from the Miami Dolphins. Collins was reportedly expected to meet with several other teams, but it was the Cowboys that locked him up Thursday.
Collins will join one of the top, young offensive lines in the country. The Cowboys currently have three pro-bowlers on their line, all of whom were first round draft picks. Collins will have a chance to start at either left guard or right tackle.
The fully guaranteed contract does help Collins recuperate some of the financial losses he took by not getting drafted. Though that still pales in comparison to the millions he would've landed as a first-round draft pick, Collins will be closer to his second deal as an undrafted free agent. He'll be able to restructure that contract after his second year in the league, compared to other drafted rookies that must wait until their fourth.
But the drama of the last week is now behind Collins, and he can begin his NFL career. The Cowboy's rookie mini-camp starts Friday morning, but it's not certain he'll join the team that quickly.
This now brings LSU's total to 10 players from last year's team that were either drafted or signed deals as undrafted free agents.