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Cowboys to host La’el Collins

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Undrafted free agent offensive lineman La’el Collins is kicking off his NFL tour with a visit to the Dallas Cowboys.

CBS Sports first reported Collins would be at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters for a meeting with owner Jerry Jones, but it could be the first of many stops as his peculiar journey to the NFL moves forward.

The New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers all showed some level of interest in Collins.

On Monday, Collins was interviewed by Louisiana police for more than an hour about the shooting death of a 29-year-old pregnant woman — his former girlfriend, Brittney Mills — in Baton Rouge.

Collins, who was considered a possible first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has never been a suspect in the case, according to police.

Collins told them he was in New Orleans to attend a Pelicans NBA playoff game the night Mills was murdered, the website TMZ reported Wednesday, quoting anonymous sources.

According to TMZ, Collins told detectives he was in New Orleans with family for an overnight stay on April 24, the night Mills was shot to death in her Baton Rouge apartment at about 10:30 p.m. Mills’ son, Brenton, was delivered alive but died one week later.

A paternity test indicated Collins was not the father of the boy, Collins’ representatives said Wednesday night. Police later confirmed that. Collins also passed a polygraph test administered by an independent investigator, ESPN reported.

Meanwhile, Collins had an impromptu dinner meeting with Bills coach Rex Ryan in Baton Rouge on Monday.

“I had dinner with him,” Ryan confirmed Wednesday. “That’s really the extent of it. When you look at it from my perspective, (I) had the opportunity to have dinner with him, and that’s what we did. I’ll leave it at that.”

The league told Pro Football Talk that the pursuit of Collins can’t commence just yet, at least not in certain ways.

“Clubs are prohibited from visiting a player who was eligible for the 2015 Draft at his campus or residence if the player has withdrawn from school and final exams have yet to conclude at the school,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Pro Football Talk via email. “This includes drafted players, any undrafted players that have signed as free agents, and any undrafted players that have yet to sign.”

Collins has withdrawn from LSU and final exams won’t conclude until later this week.

NJ.com reported that the Giants are “in the mix” for Collins, who was passed over in the draft because teams were uncomfortable selecting him while police wanted to speak to him.

“We thought about La’el the whole draft because he was sitting up there,” Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. “But we were gonna pass on that.”

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Collins has met with several Dolphins players and former LSU teammates. Rapoport described the meeting as a recruiting session, adding that no Dolphins employees made the trip to Baton Rouge.

Collins, an All-SEC lineman, is now classified as an undrafted free agent, which also means he can redo a contract that he signs after two years.

Collins, who hopes to clear his name so he can find an NFL team, did not speak as he left the police building Monday accompanied by his attorney, Jim Boren.

“It went fine; we answered all their questions,” Boren told the Times-Picayune. “La’el is not going to make any comments. I’m not going to have any comments. The investigation is going to continue. La’el is now going to start making an effort to start getting his football career back on track.”

Collins left the NFL Draft in Chicago last week to return to Baton Rouge. The NFL had denied a request by Collins to be removed from draft consideration and be allowed to enter the supplemental draft in the summer.


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