National Football League
Why newly extended Texans WR Nico Collins should continue to ascend
National Football League

Why newly extended Texans WR Nico Collins should continue to ascend

Updated May. 28, 2024 7:33 p.m. ET

The Texans on Tuesday rewarded rising star receiver Nico Collins with a big-money extension, but his best may be yet to come. 

Houston and Collins agreed to terms on a three-year deal, a league source confirmed to FOX Sports, worth a reported $72.75 million ($24.25 million per year). The former third-round pick posted a career year with C.J. Stroud at quarterback last season: 80 catches for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns. 

With Stroud entrenched as the starter, expectations should be high that Collins will continue to ascend. 

The tandem flashed a special connection in 2023, particularly on in-breaking routes. Collins had 275 receiving yards on post routes, second-highest in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats. Among qualified receivers (30 targets or more), he ranked sixth in passer rating (128.4) when targeted and sixth in catch rate (73.9%) on in-breaking routes. 


The attention that will have to be dedicated to perennial Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs and second-year pro Tank Dell should also open up more opportunities for Collins. 

Acquired from Buffalo via trade in April, the 30-year-old Diggs has been one of the league's best receivers for several years. He has registered six straight 1,000-yard seasons, a span during which he's accumulated 53 receiving touchdowns. 

A fractured fibula limited Dell to 11 games last season, but he flashed star potential as a rookie. He caught 47 passes for 709 yards and seven touchdowns.  

With all that surrounding talent, plus the recently extended standout tight end Dalton Schultz, who had 59 catches for 635 yards and five touchdowns in 2023, Collins likely won't be the high-volume target that other No. 1 caliber receivers are for their teams. But the propensity of single coverage he may see could allow him to thrive. 

Diggs is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason, as Houston wiped out the final three years of his contract after acquiring him from Buffalo. There's a chance 2024 will be his only season in Houston, which means that Collins' usage and production may skyrocket in 2025. 

Tom Brady explains why Texans QB C.J. Stroud is a great teammate

And that brings us back to Collins' contract. 

At $24.25 million in average annual value, Collins slots in at seventh among receivers, trailing A.J. Brown ($32M), Amon-Ra St. Brown ($30.002M), Tyreek Hill ($30M), Davante Adams ($28M), Cooper Kupp ($26.7M) and DeVonta Smith ($25M), according to SpoTrac. But with just a three-year commitment, Collins will be able to sign at least one more big-money deal before age 30, which should more accurately account for his production value with Stroud. 

Also keep in mind that Collins has yet to play a full season. He played just 15 games in 2023. Among the top nine wide receivers in terms of receiving yardage total last season, he was the only one to play fewer than 16 games. He was on pace for 1,469 receiving yards over a 17-game slate, which would've ranked fifth (his 1,297 yards ranked eighth). 

And the 15 games Collins was available for last season was his career high. He missed seven games the year prior. As a rookie in 2022, he missed three games. 

On paper, Collins doesn't seem to have reached his potential. 

That should leave the Texans salivating.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.


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