None was as influential or important, however, as head coach Hue Jackson, who might have been the difference in establishing Collins as a cornerstone type of player moving forward.
“The decision to me coming back, the main was reason was because of Hue,” Collins said. “We can say money, but talking to Hue, I like him a lot. He’s a good dude.”
As the Browns start offseason workouts, Collins on Tuesday outlined why he signed a four-year deal with Cleveland after unexpectedly landing here via a midseason trade with New England. A 2015 Pro Bowler who was considered one of the Patriots' top players, Collins was due to become a free agent this past spring. But the relationships — particularly an emerging bond with Jackson — he forged in Berea kept him from ever testing the open market.
“Good people don't come too often and when they do, you've got to keep them in your corner,” Collins said. “So (Jackson), and like I said, them guys in the locker room, it’s different. I wasn't just going to bail out on them like that and they threw some good money so yeah, of course, I’m staying here.”
When Collins first got to Cleveland, Jackson said it would be a “coup” if the Browns could convince him to stay, referencing the change from being on a Super Bowl contender to one that was winless at the time.
"I wanted to make sure we dealt with the elephant in the room," Jackson said in October. "Normally, when you say things like that, you look for the response of the player. All he said was, 'Coach, this is business. I get it.' He goes, 'I'm excited about my opportunity in Cleveland. I’m going to come there and give it everything I have,' and that’s what he’s done."
“He’s been outstanding,” Jackson said at the Senior Bowl in January. “Jamie’s not a big rah-rah guy. He's a do your job, come to work every day, blue collar, work hard, but I know it’s in there. I think now that he's gonna start with us from the start to the end, I think we’re gonna see a lot of those leadership qualities come out.”
Collins’ signing was the first major move in a pivotal offseason for the Browns, one in which they also added new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and fortified their offensive line in free agency.
“Last year was a tough year but I think our guys fought,” Jackson said. “And I think they knew what we did was right and how we did it and I think they know we can continue to add talent on our football team as we continue to move forward and I think Jamie Collins signals that.”
Collins, who reflected on first coming to Cleveland, described it as an adjustment, but moreover just “part of this business.”
“You just gotta do what you gotta do, handle your business,” he said. “You get paid a lot of money to do this, so you can’t just make that an excuse, you gotta do what you gotta do. But I'm always looking forward to a challenge.”
It’s why Collins is looking forward to helping the Browns, who own the first and 12th overall picks in next Thursday's NFL Draft, turn the page.
“We just gotta start fresh. Last year is last year and I’m not here even to talk about that because it is what it is, life goes on,” he said.
“You just got to use it to your advantage, learn from it and move on. I mean, I went 0-12 coming out of college my senior year so it’s nothing I haven’t been through but like I said, I learned from it. That’s the main thing.”