Former Seattle and Baltimore running back Alex Collins is looking for a new home.
The Ravens released Collins following a March 1, 2019 arrest on marijuana and gun charges. On October 3, he plead guilty to the charges. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation. In response, the NFL suspended him for three games on November 1.
Collins also suffered a broken leg in the offseason. He was expected to be ready to play at the beginning of the season, but was not medically cleared. Apparently, he is supposed to be cleared to play this week. The arrest on top of the broken leg was enough for the Ravens to justify letting him walk. They have not suffered much, as they upgraded with the free agent signing of Mark Ingram.
If a team signs him, they will have a couple weeks’ worth of waiting to do to before he can return to the field. Here we will look at some teams that could use his services, despite the risk.
Pittsburgh running back James Conner missed Week 9’s contest against the Colts with a shoulder injury he suffered during Week 8. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reported that he will likely miss Week 10 as well.
Steelers running backs have become a huge part of the offense since Mason Rudolph took over for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph is missing the arm talent and accuracy as even an aging Roethlisberger, resulting in lots of check downs, especially to running backs.
Jaylen Samuels and rookie Benny Snell are sharing time in Conner’s absence. They won both matchups in which he missed time, but they are missing his production. Signing a back like Collins would afford them the opportunity to play it safe with with Conner’s injury, and not rush him back.
He has been productive in the passing game since coming into the league in 2016. That could be a huge draw for the Steelers. Although he only has one touchdown through the air, he does have 376 yards on 49 receptions, which is an average of 7.7 yards per reception.
Collins is obviously most useful on the ground, however. In 2017 he had almost 1,000 yards rushing and six touchdowns in 15 games. In his injury-shortened season he had seven touchdowns in only 10 games. These numbers will go a long way for a team fighting their way back into the playoff picture.
If the Steelers could get him for a good price, then the only risks are re-injury and maybe another off-the-field issue. But if either of those things happen, then they still have a viable trio of backs once James Conner can return. This is easily the best fit for Collins’ talents.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers own a touchdown leader in running back Aaron Jones. Their second back, Jamaal Williams, has proven to be more than serviceable when Jones has an off game. The third back in their offense, Dexter Williams, has hardly been utilized at all.
With a one two punch that is potent, if not completely deadly, why would the Packers take a risk on Collins?
It all boils down to their lack of depth at receiver. The Packers’ screen game is one of the best in the NFL. Not only is it hard to defend, but it is hard for defenses to diagnose pre-snap. This is due to the catching prowess of their two backs.
It has become clear that, even though Rodgers has made due with a bunch of unknowns at receiver while Davante Adams was out with a toe injury, there still is not enough talent out wide. Signing another back of Collins’ ilk would allow Jones to line up out wide much more.
It also makes sense with the new offense that Matt LaFleur runs. The running backs are utilized heavily in this new system. If the Pack have three running backs they can trust, then so many new avenues are opened up. Plus it can take pressure off of Jones, who has put up duds after huge games twice this season.
It is a risk, bringing a player with disciplinary issues into a great burgeoning culture like Green Bay has. But, they are making a push for a first round bye in the playoffs. Plus, they were exposed by the Chargers in Week 9. A new wrinkle for defenses to contend with could be the next step for a good team.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have the second-highest paid running back in the NFL in Todd Gurley. There is plenty of speculation to be done as to why he has been so incredibly ineffective this year. But, regardless, he is not the same player they signed to that huge deal.
Sharing time with Malcolm Brown and third-stringer Darrell Henderson does not help Gurley’s case either. Being that Brown has been injury-prone as well in 2019, they need some help in the running game.
The Rams were successful because of their play-action pass. Now that they have no running game, the play-action is fooling nobody, and Jared Goff has been completely ineffective because of it. The key to success for McVay’s offense is the ability to run the play action to maximum efficiency.
That is where Collins could fit in. Again, he is coming off of a broken leg, which may inspire more doubt than confidence in Rams fans who are already worried about the health of their backs. But if Collins can stay healthy, he really could be the piece LA is missing.
With a very high payroll that is only getting more expensive, Los Angeles is a bit of a long shot to sign a “luxury” piece like Collins. But if they can make it work, this signing could be a huge boon to a struggling offense that was so dominant just a year ago.
Featured Image courtesy of Scott R. Galvin/USA TODAY Sports
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