On Wednesday, the team lived up to notion.
According to an ESPN.com report, Collins agreed to a six-year, $17.5 million contract that included a $400,000 signing bonus, plus the chance to earn a $2.5 million option bonus in 2005 if he remains in shape and keeps his weight at optimum level. Collins is expected to earn about $1 million this season, and he could make $4.1 million over the first two years of the contract.
The road to an agreement, however, was not a straight line. ESPN.com added that reaching an agreement required Collins' agent, Brantley Evans, to travel to eight cities in the course of the past year to negotiate with Raiders officials. Evans was fired by Collins during the process, and then rehired when Collins couldn't muster up a visit from another team with his new agent.
The Raiders drafted Collins in the first-round (23rd overall pick) of the 1998 draft. While Collins has been hampered at times with injuries, he has also been a crucial piece to the team's offensive line. Collins missed 10 games in 2001 with a stress fracture but also made a successful transition from left tackle to right guard in 2000.
Collins had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee before last season, but returned to contribute to the league's top offense and offer protection to quarterback Rich Gannon, the NFL MVP.
Despite his success, the 6-foot-4, 325-pound Collins did not draw much interest in the free agent market mainly because other teams were concerned about his weight and prior injuries. The Raiders, however, considered Collins a priority and retained him.Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com