EARTH CITY, Mo. -- According to St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, his team was in the mix to sign undrafted rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins even up until he made the decision to sign with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week.
"Yeah, we were involved in it," Fisher said Saturday. "There were some thiaVngs, we still had some unanswered questions at the time in which he made his decision but we were involved. We were told by them that we were in the final four, which is not necessarily a consolation but we were involved, yes."
The Rams maintained interest in Collins throughout the draft process, even going so far as to have him pay a pre-draft visit to St. Louis. While he almost certainly wasn't going to be the team's choice at No. 10 regardless, Collins' situation shifted when questions arose about the shooting death of a woman Collins knew. Police in Louisiana sought Collins for questioning, but he was unable to participate in time to alleviate concerns that teams might have had about his status.
Collins went undrafted and, after getting the chance to speak with the proper authorities, was cleared of any involvement in the case. Collins also took a paternity test, the results of which showed he was not the father of the woman's child, who also died days after the shooting.
After getting more clarity, teams began to pursue Collins, with Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan dining with Collins in Louisiana and former LSU players around the league reaching out in an effort to recruit Collins to their NFL teams. The Rams apparently also stayed in touch with Collins, but their pitch wasn't enough to land him.
Upon signing with Dallas, Collins said he wanted to be part of the "best offensive line ever." He also had earlier said he wanted to go to a contender. While the Rams offered a clear path to plenty of playing time, the contender status wasn't on par with the Cowboys, who nearly played in the NFC championship last year.
Fisher also said that while the Rams maintained interest, that interest was tempered a bit by the team's draft haul on the offensive line. The Rams selected tackle Rob Havenstein, guard Jamon Brown, tackle Andrew Donnal and guard Cody Wichmann at various points between rounds two and six.
"Had we not had the success that we had in the draft, we probably would have been more involved (with Collins)," Fisher said. "But I’m happy with the way things worked out for him and I hope things are settled appropriately and then I’m happy with what we have here."