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Dallas Cowboys release starting right tackle La'el Collins

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FRISCO, Texas -- After no success in finding a suitable trade, the Dallas Cowboys released right tackle La'el Collins on Thursday and designated it a post-June 1 move.

The move will save the Cowboys $10 million, which will come off the books in June. However, he will count $8.7 million against the 2023 salary cap. Had the Cowboys opted to release Collins without the designation or traded him, they would have saved just $1.3 million.

The Cowboys had trade discussions with teams at the NFL scouting combine and had given Collins' agents, Deryk Gilmore and Peter Schaffer, the ability to seek a trade. The New England Patriots had interest, just as they did in Amari Cooper, according to sources, but Collins' contract was an issue. Collins figures to have a good market with the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets among potential suitors. For the Cowboys, the release of Collins means Terence Steele will move into the starting role at right tackle.

Collins signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension in 2019 that carried guaranteed money into this season. However, a five-game suspension last year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy voided the $6.48 million in guarantees.

Over the past two seasons, Collins missed 21 of 33 games to injury or suspension. He did not play in 2020 because of hip surgery and started 10 of the 12 games he played in 2022.

The Cowboys' offensive line is beginning a transition. Left guard Connor Williams agreed to a deal with the Dolphins. The Cowboys have Connor McGovern available to replace Williams, but could look to the draft -- specifically in the first round at No. 24 -- for a guard or center.

Collins signed with the Cowboys in 2015 as an undrafted free agent after circumstances saw him go from a potential first-round selection to not selected at all after his name was connected to a murder investigation. The Cowboys signed him after a dinner at Jerry Jones' house in which he was joined by coaches and soon-to-be teammates.

He began his career at left guard but missed 13 games in 2016 because of a toe injury that required surgery. In 2017, Collins moved to right tackle and started 47 of the next 48 games. He had his best season in 2019, but the hip injury has hurt his productivity since.

The Cowboys signed Steele as an undrafted free agent in 2020, and he has started 27 games in his first two years.

In other news Thursday, the the Cowboys reached an agreement on a two-year deal for $13 million with defensive end Dorance Armstrong, according to a source.

He had a career-high five sacks last season for the Cowboys to go along with 20 pressures and 37 tackles.