Collins’ attorneys continue to appeal on his behalf, arguing that his violation of the policy allows for a fine but not a suspension.
FRISCO, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ starting right tackle, La’el Collins was suspended five games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the league announced on Friday.
Collins’ exact violation is unclear, but multiple sources said he failed any tests. Nowhere in the policy is five games listed as a possible penalty.
Collins’ attorneys continue to appeal on his behalf, arguing that his violation of the policy allows for a fine but not a suspension, a source told Ed Werder of ESPN.
Collins will be eligible to return to the roster on October 18, the day after the Cowboys face the New England Patriots.
The Cowboys weren’t caught off guard by the NFL’s decision, but coach Mike McCarthy noted during his press conference Friday that, “The timing is a bit awkward, but it’s something I can’t talk about right now.” .
The suspension will cost Collins approximately $ 2 million and, under the collective bargaining agreement, voids the current injury guarantee worth $ 6.48 million in his 2022 salary.
Collins has started 62 of the 63 games he has played for the Cowboys since 2015 as a left guard or right tackle. He missed 13 games in 2016 due to a toe injury and all of last season due to hip surgery. His appearance in Thursday’s first game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was called into question the week before due to a problem that knocked him out of two practices.
Without Collins, the Cowboys could look for a replacement in a number of ways: Veteran Ty Nsekhe and Terence Steele, who started 14 games last year, served as backup offensive tackles against the Buccaneers. If the Cowboys go for a tackle-for-tackle trade, either one could replace Collins.
“We have a lot of experience from the past year in the people’s movement, but we’d like to keep moving forward with the guys that have been working at right tackle,” McCarthy said. “Obviously [Collins], Ty and Terence did the reruns there … We have our eyes wide open. You have to be because things happen. We want to have as many combinations as possible. “
The Cowboys could also trade six-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin to tackle and keep Connor McGovern at right guard. Martin started two games at right tackle last year before a calf injury ended his season. Martin remains on the reserve / COVID-19 list, but is expected to return in time for the Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Last week, McCarthy was asked about improvising Martin at tackle this season.
“I hope we don’t have to go down that road anymore,” he said. “He talks a lot about Zack Martin about how he jumped and gave us the quality of play that he could give us.”
Collins’ absence won’t be the only one for the Cowboys offense.
Wide receiver Michael Gallup left the 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers early with a calf strain that, according to one source, could knock him out for three to five weeks. He had four receptions for 36 yards before injuring himself in the second half.
Cedrick Wilson moved in as the No. 3 catcher alongside Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb after Gallup went down.