I hope Bill's ego isn't behind this move. Collins was the heart and soul of our defense. Stunner.
I don't know if I'd go that far. He's certainly been a big part of the defense, but I'd rate Hightower as the defensive leader.
News of this trade shocked me. I already knew the Pats were going to have to make some tough decisions regarding whom to extend, but I didn't expect this. As I've read up on Collins' situation, however, it seems that he'd fallen out of favor with Belichick—not sure why, but it helps explain why this trade happened.
I admit that I'm not great with salary stuff, but I still find the NFL salary cap structure quite confusing. How is it that Denver could give Von Miller a huge deal, also pay pretty well for Aqib Talib, and still have plenty left over for the rest of the defensive unit ... but the Pats have to ship off most of their best defensive players?
I assume that they'll now be able to pay Hightower, but maybe not? Sheard? Ryan?
It's kinda similar to how the Bruins seemingly always have to eventually trade their best players for "salary cap reasons," yet other NHL teams don't seem to have that issue nearly as often. How is a football team supposed to gather and retain a lot of quality defensive talent? You can't have a defense with 1 or 2 "well-paid" players and everyone else on rookie deals and bargain-basement contracts and expect to be good, can you?
As others here have said, Belichick knows a lot more than we do about football, and these things have usually worked out (Richard Seymour, etc.), but it's a bit of a head-scratcher for me nonetheless.