In trading for Jamie Collins, Browns get top-level talent and potential free agent

Pats weren't willing to pay Collins (1:54)

Adam Schefter breaks down why the Patriots decided to trade LB Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a compensatory third-round pick. (1:54)

BEREA, Ohio -- Did the Cleveland Browns just pull off a heist when they acquired linebacker Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots?

One NFL player believes so. He said the Browns got a player who "has no limitations."

"He can literally cover tight ends, blitz and he has great awareness," the player said. "I think he's one of the best defensive players in the league."

The Browns acquired Collins on Monday for what will either be a fourth-round pick or a compensatory third-round pick (if the NFL awards that third-round choice to the Browns).

Collins' athleticism is considered unique. He covers, rushes and in an Oct. 18 game against the Colts, jumped over the line to block a field goal. A highlight film of Collins on YouTube shows that block and shows him forcing fumbles, making sacks and shooting gaps to tackle backs for a loss.

The Browns intend to have him on the field Sunday against Dallas.

"I think he's a tremendous pass-rusher," coach Hue Jackson said. "He can play linebacker. I think there are several things he can do. He has a real versatile skill set."

The Browns believe they have sent a message by acquiring a cornerstone defensive player, and they smile at the fact that they brought in a player whose trade in New England was considered "shocking." There's also some sense of satisfaction that they acquired a player while most project them to be sending players elsewhere.

Why would New England trade Collins?

Two reasons: Collins' contract expires after this season, and the Patriots had made little progress toward an extension. Bill Belichick does not waste time with players he feels overvalue themselves. He gets what he can and moves on.

This of course means that the Browns have to re-sign Collins if they want to keep him. Players like Collins can discover gold on the market, and the better he plays in Cleveland, the better his odds are for a big deal. Jackson said there is every intention of re-signing Collins.

"I don't think we would have done this if we didn't think there was an opportunity to move forward with him," Jackson said.

It could be expensive -- very expensive. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Collins was looking for a deal comparable to Von Miller's in Denver. That contract is for six years and $114.5 million, with $70 million guaranteed.

If Collins leaves as a free agent, the Browns could be awarded a compensatory pick for him equal to the one they gave up. The Browns also have the option to apply the franchise tag to Collins. Last offseason, that figure was $14.19 million.

There are concerns about Collins, something that's true of any traded player.

A potential Super Bowl team used Collins on Sunday in situations against Buffalo. The first question asked of Belichick on Monday was why Collins didn't play more.

It could be the Patriots knew they were trading him and didn't want him injured. Or it could be that Belichick simply does not see Collins as the same kind of player others do. The Patriots have given up Richard Seymour via trade and lost Wes Welker as a free agent, but they have not let many great players leave.

The Browns are a building team and Collins is 27.

Giving up a late-third-round or early-fourth-round pick for him is not a great risk.

The key to this trade is how long Collins plays in Cleveland, and at what price.