The long-awaited announcement to help further bolster the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line has finally been made, as Scott Smith of the Bucs’ official website broke the news that Anthony Collins and the Bucs had agreed to terms, and that Collins would be introduced on Thursday.
Collins was most recently with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he came on strong as a starter during his final year after spending time as a versatile backup for most of his career.
Collins is a bit of a risk, as the 28-year-old has limited starting experience, but he had a good reason to sit on the bench. He was behind Andrew Whitworth on the Bengals’ depth chart, who is an eight-year pro and a former Pro Bowler.
But when given the chance, Collins was amazing last season at left tackle, allowing no sacks and no quarterback hits during the regular season, and giving up only 12 total QB pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s a talented pass protector who also avoided penalties, drawing only one flag during the regular season.
He was on the field for 673 snaps in 2013, and that experience was enough to earn the trust of not only the Buccaneers, but also the Panthers and Bengals, who were eager to sign the Kansas product.
Collins will almost certainly become the starter at left tackle in Tampa, which means replacing the aging Donald Penn. According to Rick Stroud, that means Penn is likely to be traded.
The Oakland Raiders would be the most obvious candidate, as they are still without a left tackle, and have more cap space than they know what to do with. However, if a deal cannot be reached to trade Penn, he’ll likely just be released, saving the Buccaneers over $7 million against the cap.
Collins, on the other hand, will cost only $6 million per season, according to a report.
This means paying less per year for a younger left tackle who protects the quarterback better, provided he can sustain his 2013 form.