Jamie Collins was the second Patriots free agent linebacker to jump to a former defensive coordinator's team on Monday night, signing a three-year deal with Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions, per Ian Rapoport.
Collins experienced a rebirth in his second stint in New England, turning a one-year, $900K contract into the second multi-year payday of his career. Things didn't work out for Collins in Cleveland, but Matt Patricia was his defensive coordinator early in his career and is well aware of how to best employ the dynamic and enigmatic linebacker.
After a white-hot start, Collins' slowdown over the course of 2019 was characteristic of the defense as a whole. What started as a high-flying interception-forcing defense, ended up as a defense that couldn't solve Ryan Fitzpatrick in the season finale, then got run over by Derrick Henry in the divisional round.
After Monday evening, the team has two big holes on the edges of their defense after the departures of Collins and Van Noy. The depth chart isn't barren, with Chase Winovich, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Derek Rivers, along with practice squadder Tashaun Bower filling things out. John Simon could also contribute on the edge, but played more on the line last season.
The position will be a big need in the coming days and in the draft, as the Patriots front seven could look largely different this fall.