Cowboys Plan Meeting With La'el Collins

IRVING - The Cowboys are setting up a recruiting meeting with La'el Collins, the blue-chip talent who went undrafted due to what owner Jerry Jones calls, 'One of the strangest things I've ever seen.' Read the inside story here.

Offensive lineman La'el Collins is an undrafted free agent with first-round talent. Football's been on the backburner for a time; he's trying to clear his name regarding the death of shooting victims Brittney Mills and her infant son. There seems to be light at the end of that tragic tunnel for him now ... as he's receiving invitations to interview with virtually every team in the NFL.

Including the Dallas Cowboys, who seem set to be granted his first official interview.

A source tells me (as first reported on 105.3 The Fan) that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is “very involved’’ in his team’s pursuit of the former LSU star, a blue-chip talent but for the fact Baton Rouge police before and after last week’s draft questioned him regarding the murders. Collins’ hometown paper, the Advocate, was the first to report that the 6-4, 305-pound star has set up a meeting with the Cowboys.

Police seem to be indicating that Collins was not a suspect here. Meanwhile, a paternity test now shows he’s not the father of the deceased child, Brandon. And various reports say Collins has now passed a polygraph test regarding any involvement in the April 24 shooting of Mills, who was pregnant at the time.

The Cowboys are not alone in the pursuit of LSU product Collins, considered not only a potential top-15 pick in the draft but also a “high-character’’ person. While every team in the NFL passed on him because of the unknown status, the same number of teams are now likely to want his services. The Bills, Bucs and Dolphins have made efforts to recruit him.

Should he choose Dallas, he would join one of the youngest and best offensive lines in football. He’s been a tackle but can also play guard, so in theory he could compete with right tackle Doug Free or left guard Ron Leary -- but there are stories that he prefers tackle, maybe in part because great players there generally end up with better paydays that guards. There is no way to know at this time Collins' final decision on any number of factors: His desire to stay close to home or to distance himself; his desire to join a winning team vs. a desire to start right away; his representatives' ability to work with a team to set him up financially for the future; his fondness for other players on NFL teams (including LSU exes) and the relationship between the LSU coaching staff and NFL teams'. (The Cowboys have a good one with head coach Les Miles, a former Dallas assistant.)

The conventional UDFA deal would pay him $1.57 million over three seasons, though there may be a loophole that allows him to re-do after two seasons -- which would conceivably give him a chance to make up for losing as much as $9 million during this process. A bidding team can also take that $1.57 million and make part or all of it guaranteed.

“If he’s exonerated, it’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen,” Jones said late last week. ... This situation has never come up.''

It's up now. And so, it seems, is Dallas' turn to recruit.

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