The Bengals struggled to protect Joe Burrow in Sunday's 24-3 season-opening loss to the Browns. Two days later, they're saying goodbye to potential reinforcements, releasing former starting offensive tackle La'el Collins.
Collins, 30, had been on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which would've sidelined him for at least four games. Now, the ninth-year veteran is free to sign with any team and play as soon as he's medically cleared.
Originally signed to a three-year, $21 million contract last offseason, Collins' release saves the Bengals more than $7 million in salary cap space, per Over the Cap. The former Cowboys standout was a candidate to open 2023 as Cincinnati's starting right tackle, but his rehab from a torn ACL and MCL extended through the preseason, resulting in his placement on PUP.
Collins started 15 games for the Bengals in 2022, but former left tackle Jonah Williams has since taken over the first-team job on the right side, with four-time Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr. joining the team as Burrow's new blind-side blocker this offseason.
Availability has been a concern for Collins throughout his career. A toe injury cost him all but three games in 2016, and a five-game suspension limited him to 10 starts in 2021, his final season with Dallas. His exit leaves the Bengals short on long-term offensive line depth, with Jackson Carman, Cody Ford and D'Ante Smith as top reserves behind Brown and Williams.