It’s easy to point to money as the main reason why the Patriots traded away Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins… but there’s more to the story.
For a New England franchise that has built a culture of team achievement over individual success, it was becoming increasingly evident that Jamie Collins wasn’t quite on the same page.
Culture is an important — if not the most important — aspect of any NFL franchise. Anyone can put together a roster of impressive talent. Look how well that’s working out for the Jacksonville Jaguars, or the mid-2000s so-called mega-teams that Washington owner Daniel Snyder tried to assemble. If pro football was only about talent, then would the Patriots have four Super Bowl wins in six appearances under Bill Belichick?
No. They wouldn’t.
Reportedly wanting a blockbuster contract — then jawing with coaches and going into business for himself on the field when it became clear he wasn’t going to get it — Collins showed that, talent aside, he wasn’t the right fit for the Patriots. No more evident is that fact than in this quote from his agent.
Collins knows the records. Still OK with it.
Under no circumstances does that mentality ever cut it in a Bill Belichick coached locker room. In the New England football culture, the record is the only thing that matters. Tackles. Sacks. Interceptions. Pro Bowl appearances. They’re nothing if the team isn’t winning football games.
Belichick was born from the Bill Parcells school of coaching. In framing his team’s mindset, the apple didn’t fall very far from the proverbial tree. For Belichick, a few famous words from his mentor evoke the epitome of the Patriots team culture in brilliant, succinct fashion.
“You are what your record says you are.”
Dollars and cents do factor into the Collins trade — we would be naive to think otherwise. The truth, however, is that when faced with the prospect of paying a player who didn’t fit the culture, there was really no choice at all. Talent be damned, Collins had to go.