The first of three goals set by the Browns front office entering the offseason centered on retaining and re-signing the team's key players.
On Monday, the Browns did just that with one of their top defensive players, signing versatile linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. to a four-year contract extension.
"We are going to be aggressive about acquiring talent, and when we had the opportunity to trade for Jamie back in October, it was done with the intent of him becoming a long-term part of our defense," said Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown. "Jamie has shown throughout his NFL career that he is a very talented player with a rare skill set that allows him to impact games in a number of ways. He's a versatile, smart, competitive and physical football player who has experienced winning at the highest level. Jamie was great to have in our building this season, and we look forward to him being a Cleveland Brown for a number of years to come. We are counting on him to be a big part of us becoming a winning team."
Collins is the second Browns defensive player to sign a contract extension in recent months. Defensive back Jamar Taylor, who was similarly acquired in a trade for a draft pick, agreed to an extension in December.
Acquired from the New England Patriots in late October, Collins made an immediate impact with the Browns throughout the second half of the season. He started all eight games and rarely missed a snap, totaling 69 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. All told, Collins had 112 tackles over 15 games in 2016, his fourth season in the NFL.
"It's no secret how I feel about Jamie Collins," head coach Hue Jackson said. "He's an outstanding football player and a guy we think can be part of the foundation of a tremendous defense. I was excited when we were able to trade for him last season, and now, I'm even more excited knowing that he is going to part of our future. We all know we have a lot of work to do to get our team where we feel it needs to be. Jamie wants to be a part of that. He wants to help build this team for success. He was outstanding in our locker room last year because he's seen what success in the NFL looks like and our players respect the way he carries himself. We are all looking forward to him being a part of the success we plan to earn through our hard work and preparation."
Jamie Collins has signed a new 4-year contract. Take a look back at some of his best moments with the Browns!
A Pro Bowler, All-Pro and Super Bowl Champion, Collins is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds and entering his fifth NFL season out of Southern Mississippi. The former second-round pick has 49 career starts, 354 career tackles, 12.5 sacks, five interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown and one blocked extra point.
"I want to thank the Cleveland Browns organization for giving me this opportunity," Collins said. "From the day I walked in the door, I felt welcomed by my new teammates and everyone in this organization. The past is the past as far as last season's record, but today is a new day. I'm only looking forward. I know we have a lot of work to do, and with Coach Hue leading us and the front office bringing in talent, I feel like we are going to get there and I feel good about continuing my career here."
Originally selected by New England in the second round of the 2013 draft, he has appeared in 58 games with 49 starts. He has totaled. In 2015, he earned his first career Pro Bowl selection and was named to the Associated Press All-Pro second team. He led New England in tackles and played every defensive snap during the team's win in Super Bowl XLIX. He led the Patriots in tackles in 2014 and 2015.
Collins will be a core member of a defense that includes promising youngsters in defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib, nose tackle Danny Shelton and fellow inside linebacker Christian Kirksey, who was fourth in the NFL in tackles this past season. Pro Bowl veteran Joe Haden and Taylor serve as key members of a secondary in a defense that will be led by newly signed defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
"Jamie is a crazy athlete. He's a big guy, about 260 (pounds), and he moves like he's a DB," Kirksey said during the final part of the season. "He definitely brings a lot of versatility to this defense and a lot of positive energy. He came from a winning organization so he knows how to win, he knows what he's doing and he's just moving around in a lot of different spots.
"Jamie's been great for this defense. He's been a great teammate, he's a great guy on and off the field."