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NFL AM: Rex Ryan visits La’el Collins in Louisiana

Rex Ryan visits with undrafted LSU OL Collins; Texans give Mercilus extension; Irvin peeved about option

Alex Hickey

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Rex Ryan visits La’el Collins in Baton Rouge

Without question, the most talented player to go undrafted last weekend is LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins. Collins was scheduled to be in the green room in the first round, but when an alleged former girlfriend was murdered in Louisiana, he had to return to Baton Rouge to answer questions from the police.

Though he has not been named a suspect, he also has not been officially cleared in the investigation. That uncertainty led to him being left off of everyone’s draft board. But now that he has finally spoken to police, teams are prodding around in anticipation that he will be cleared and able to resume his football career.

First in line was Bills coach Rex Ryan, who paid Collins a visit in Baton Rouge on Monday. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported the two had dinner.

Buffalo isn’t the only team asking about Collins, who will essentially be recruited for the second time in his football career if as expected there are no charges against him. The Dolphins and Cowboys are reportedly two other interested parties.

At this point Collins is only eligible to sign a three-year deal as an undrafted free agent – though one wonders if teams will offer the promise of renegotiating that after his rookie season to pay him closer to what his draft slot might have been.

Texans give Mercilus a long-term deal

The Houston Texans declined their fifth-year option on pass rusher Whitney Mercilus – and instead gave him a juicy new contract.

The fourth-year outside linebacker signed a four-year extension worth $26 million on Monday, $10.5 million of which is guaranteed.

It is a contract that seems to have been handed out under the assumption that Mercilus’ star will continue to rise after three seasons marked by occasional greatness and occasional invisibility. Mercilus had a career-high 50 tackles last season, though he also had a career low with 5 sacks.

It’s a gamble for the Texans, but it would seem they are expecting Mercilus to produce if opposing teams have to account for a healthy Jadaveon Clowney to go alongside J.J. Watt up front.

Fifth-year option madness abounds

Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin is not a big fan of the fifth-year team option for rookie contracts. Seattle declined exercising Irvin’s for 2016, meaning he will be eligible for free agency after this season rather than earning $7.8 million from the Seahawks.

Irvin made his displeasure quite apparent on Twitter.

“Worked for everything I got in my life this (expletive) will b no different! I earns my keeps!’’

“Faced way tougher adversity getting outta them streets coming up! That’s (expletive) is nothing! (Expletive) THAT OPTION!”

Irvin isn’t the only player in the NFL who wanted to expletive that option on Monday.

A pair of players who have disappointed at this stage of their careers – Buccaneers running back Doug Martin and Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne – also had their options declined.

Martin looked like a star in the making his rookie year, gaining 1,454 yards and running for 11 touchdowns. However, he has not cracked the 500-yard mark in the two seasons since.

Claiborne has proven to be a bigger flop from the same draft class. He had an $11 million option for 2016, but with the Cowboys drafting Byron Jones in the first round that proved to be money better saved than spent.

Claiborne has only played in 29 of the 50 possible games in his career and has three interceptions.

Irvin is certainly more worthy of having his option picked up than Martin or Claiborne, but has the misfortune of being in the same rookie class as teammates Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. It goes without saying that the Seahawks will have to do some creative accounting if they want to keep that trio around – and probably just demonstrated which of the three they value the least if push comes to shove.

Alex Hickey can vividly recall most significant NFL events going back to Walter Payton's final game in 1987, including the ones that didn't make him cry. Since 2008, his full-time job has been covering college football, specifically McNeese State, for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Free time is spent informing, amusing or annoying you for Football Insiders.

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