CLEVELAND (AP) — Other than the incessant losing, Jamie Collins enjoyed his half season with the Cleveland Browns.
He’s sticking around for four more.
Collins agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract on Monday with the Browns, who made signing the 27-year-old one of their offseason priorities and locked him up before he could hit the free-agent market. The deal includes $26 million guaranteed.
A Pro Bowler for New England, Collins made a major impression during the eight games he started after arriving on Oct. 31 in a trade with the Patriots. Collins recorded 69 tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble while playing every defensive snap.
“From the day I walked in the door, I felt welcomed by my new teammates and everyone in this organization,” Collins said. “The past is the past as far as last season’s record, but today is a new day. I’m only looking forward.”
After they let several of their own free agents — including center Alex Mack and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, who will play with Atlanta in the Super Bowl — leave last winter, the Browns weren’t going to make a similar mistake with Collins.
“We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense,” said Sashi Brown, the team’s executive vice president of football operations. “Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways.
“He’s a versatile, smart, competitive and physical football player who has experienced winning at the highest level. Jamie was great to have in our building this season, and we look forward to him being a Cleveland Brown for a number of years to come. We are counting on him to be a big part of us becoming a winning team.”
Now that they’ve got Collins under contract, the Browns can focus on signing wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who had 78 catches for 1,049 yards in his first full season at the position.
The Browns went 1-15 this past season, but they see Collins as a major piece to a defense that will be led by new coordinator Gregg Williams.
Collins met with Williams and Jackson on Monday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The Browns’ staff is coaching the South team this week and in Saturday’s game.
“It’s no secret how I feel about Jamie Collins,” said Jackson, who late in the season said it would be “a coup” if the Browns signed the linebacker. “He’s an outstanding football player and a guy we think can be part of the foundation of a tremendous defense. I was excited when we were able to trade for him last season, and now, I’m even more excited knowing that he is going to part of our future. We all know we have a lot of work to do to get our team where we feel it needs to be. Jamie wants to be a part of that. He wants to help build this team for success.
“He was outstanding in our locker room last year because he’s seen what success in the NFL looks like and our players respect the way he carries himself. We are all looking forward to him being a part of the success we plan to earn through our hard work and preparation.”
Collins was originally selected in the second round by the Patriots in 2013. He led New England in tackles and played every snap during the team’s win in the 2015 Super Bowl.
The Browns can upgrade their defense in free agency and they have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft and four selections in the top 50.
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