Cowboys release right tackle La’el Collins for salary cap relief

The Dallas Cowboys released right tackle La’el Collins on Thursday in the second cost-cutting move involving one of their offensive starters.

Collins is designated as a cut after June 1 to save more money under the salary cap this year. Dallas gets $10 million in cap space this season.

The release of Collins, 29, comes five days after the Cowboys traded receiver Amari Cooper to Cleveland for cap relief. Dallas goes from three offensive starters after not re-signing left guard Connor Williams, who is heading to Miami.

Collins became a starter in his rookie season in 2015 after signing with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. The former LSU player was expected to be a high pick, but his name surfaced just before the draft in the police investigation into a woman’s death. Collins was quickly cleared.

The last two seasons in Dallas for Collins have been tough. He hasn’t played at all in 2020 due to hip surgery. Last year, he received a five-game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug abuse policy.

Collins sued the league with two games remaining on the suspension, and court documents in the lawsuit revealed the NFL accused him of bribing a drug testing official. Collins’ agent strongly denied the allegations.

After serving the entire suspension, Collins did not immediately get his job back. The Cowboys stayed with another undrafted player in Terence Steele, although Collins eventually started again. Steele should replace him again.

Collins had three years left on a five-year, $50 million extension signed in 2019. It was his third contract with the Cowboys. Collins has started 71 of Dallas’ 74 games, including 47 of 48 regular-season games from 2017-19 before hip surgery.