Former LSU guard and first-round talent La’el Collins went undrafted this weekend due to Baton Rouge police seeking to question him in relation to a double-murder investigation. Collins has not been named as a suspect, and he is scheduled to meet with police later this morning. Even if he comes out of that meeting free and clear, though, he doesn’t have a whole lot of options in front of him.
After Collins fell out of the first round, his agent informed teams that Collins would not sign with any team that drafted him after the third round, and would instead wait to re-enter the draft in 2016. Obviously, that gave teams all the more reason not to draft him, and Collins’s number was never called.
But Collins won’t be able to enter the 2016 draft now. Players who are selected by a team but never actually sign a contract are allowed to re-enter the draft the following year, but this rule does not apply to players who go undrafted. All Collins can do now is sign with a team as an undrafted free agent, and the league puts strict limitations on how much undrafted free agents are able to sign for (again, it would be nice if NFL players had a union), meaning Collins will get a league-minimum contract.
Collins won’t be missing out on too much in terms of salary, as most players drafted after the third round end up with similarly paltry contracts (hence Collins’s agent drawing a line after the third round). Where Collins will take a hit, though, is in his signing bonus. Over The Cap can explain:
The UDFA’s are very limited in terms of signing bonus money. I don’t have the final number in front of me but IIRC each team can spend, in total, about $88,000 on all their undrafted rookies. That usually means a large number of players receiving signing bonuses that will not exceed $8,000. So that is a limiting factor for a player who is not drafted. The smallest signing bonus a 7th round pick will receive likely to be about $52,000. So that is a pretty big loss considering for many players the bonus is the only salary they will ever receive.
Given Collins’s talent, there’s a chance that any team looking to scoop him up would throw most or all of their allotted bonus pool at him. Even if that’s the case, and even if Collins comes out of today’s meeting with the police free and clear, it’s likely that one of the more talented players in this year’s draft will end up heading into the season with just a few thousand dollars in guaranteed money.