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La'el Collins rumors: Are Giants really 'in the mix?'

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If Collins became a Giant, where would he fit?

La'el Collins at the NFL Combine
La'el Collins at the NFL Combine
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Let's suppose for a minute that the New York Giants are "in the mix" for former LSU offensive tackle, as Jordan Ranaan of NJ Advance Media is claiming. That's a report that I have not been able to confirm, nor have I seen it confirmed anywhere else. NFL.com says the Giants are among the teams "likely interested" in Collins.

Let's go even further. Let's suppose the Giants are the team that eventually signs Collins if and when he is completely exonerated in the murder of Brittany Mills. What would the Giants do with Collins?

These are the facts -- at least the football facts. The Giants drafted Ereck Flowers No. 9 overall, and they drafted him because they believe he can be their left tackle of the future. He is almost certainly going to start, either at right tackle or left guard. My guess is right tackle, because the Giants have indicated in the past they would move Pugh inside if they found a replacement outside. Either way, Flowers starts. Unless he is a complete disaster.

Collins might have been in the discussion at No. 9 had and he is a 'first-round talent,' but he will be a UDFA signee. Which means the Giants, or whatever team signs him, will not have as much invested in him. Sure, Collins will be in a position to choose the best situation for himself, which likely means he would choose a team where he would be almost certain to start immediately. Unless there are injuries, the Giants can't promise him that.

They invested the ninth overall pick in Flowers. They have a first-round pick invested in Pugh. They have a second-round pick invested in Weston Richburg. They have $35 million invested in Will Beatty. They have $16.8 million invested in Geoff Schwartz. Those guys are going to play.

My guess? And it is just a guess, without any inside information attached to it. The scenario I envision would be the Giants starting Collins out as their primary backup at both guard spots, and perhaps at right tackle. In the event of injury at any of those spots, that would make Collins first player off the bench. In this scenario, Collins would move permanently into the starting lineup in 2016. He could do that at right tackle if Flowers moves to the left side to replace Beatty. He could also do that at guard in place of Schwartz should the Giants choose to move on from him after the upcoming season. Per Spotrac, cutting Schwartz would save the Giants $2.65 million against the cap in 2016.

The bidding for Collins likely won't come down to money, at least not initial contract money. Over The Cap explained how UDFA contracts work, that they are locked into three-year deals with pre-determined payouts maxing out at $615,000 in the third year of the deal. Teams are also extremely limited in bonus money that can be paid to UDFAs, so Collins can't earn a big payday that way. UDFAs can hit free agency a year ahead of drafted rookies, though.

What all of that means is that wherever Collins signs is more likely to be about opportunity and comfort level with his surroundings than about his initial paycheck. Can the Giants offer him those things? Do they really want to? That remains to be seen.