A source told FOX Sports NFL Insider Alex Marvez that 26 teams expressed interest in signing La’el Collins as a college free agent after the draft.
That number was then whittled down with Dallas Cowboys the team atop Collins’ wish list, the source said. Collins eventually signed with the Cowboys on Thursday.
While not being drafted early in the first round, as once projected, cost him millions of dollars in guaranteed money, Collins had the chance to control his own destiny and sign where he wanted after he wasn’t picked. Roughly a half-dozen teams told the Collins camp during the draft that they were planning to choose him in the later rounds, the source said. None followed through because of the belief Collins wouldn’t sign a rookie deal so he could instead re-enter the 2016 NFL draft.
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When he cleared the 2015 draft without being picked, Collins became ineligible for the 2016 selection process.
Teams shied away from Collins, a 2014 All-Southeastern Conference lineman, due to his name popping up in connection with the shooting death of his former girlfriend, 29-year-old Brittney Mills. Police acknowledged days before the draft that they wanted to talk to Collins because he knew the victim, who was eight months pregnant when she was gunned down at her home in late April. He has never been named a suspect or person of interest.
After he went undrafted, Collins met with police, who say he has answered all of their questions. Collins also submitted to a paternity test that proved he is not the father of Mills’ infant son, who was born alive after the shooting but died days later.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Collins is a Baton Rouge native who was rated among Louisiana’s top high school prospects in 2010, when he committed to play near home.