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  • Ben Grant

Explaining the Jalen Collins Trade

Jalen Collins watches Coach Bell put Robertson Daniel through a drill.

On Sunday, the Toronto Argonauts traded American DB Jalen Collins and American OL Martez Ivey for a 6th round pick in 2023.

You don’t like this trade. I get it. Honestly, there’s not much to like, so I don’t blame you, but there’s obviously something else at play here.

On paper it’s a starting corner and a backup tackle for a player the odds tell us will never play an offensive or defensive snap in the CFL. Of course that’s a terrible trade. But then you have to ask yourself why it was made.

It’s not like Pinball suddenly turned to Vince Magri and said, “Hey, you know what we need? Another sixth round pick next year. Which of this year’s starters can we trade for one?”

It’s also unlikely Chris Jones came calling looking to poach Collins from Toronto. If he’d made the call, the price would have been much higher. If someone calls you looking for a starting corner, you can set your price, and if all they offer is a sixth, you tell them where they can go.

So, what happened? I don’t know, but I can speculate.

I don’t think Jalen Collins was going to be a Toronto Argonauts this season.

We’ll explore the “why” in a minute, but the first part is what you have to accept. That’s the only way this deal gets made.

The club knew Collins had value, so they didn’t release him. They probably phoned around and the only team interested was Edmonton. Why? Because most teams have their starters set. Coach Jones knew how good a player Collins was and his own team just had their doors blown off this week. Maybe Toronto was looking for a player in return or a higher pick, but Edmonton was in control of this situation. They weren’t the ones making the call. Why would they pay more than a late pick? They clearly knew Toronto planned to release him, in which case they could sign him for nothing when they did, but the certainty of owning his rights made it worth a sixth for them.

And so, the deal was made.

This leaves us with the “why”. Why wasn’t Collins going to be an Argonaut this season? As usual, I know nothing, but I'll think it through with you. Collins didn’t dress for either of Toronto’s two preseason games after playing in the Double Blue game. I note that he had a new defensive coordinator in Coach Mace, and he never worked with Coach Bell last year. There’s often a lot of turnover when a new coordinator comes in, and I’ve certainly noticed that with the DBs this year, despite the unit performing well last season. Jeff Richards, Crezdon Butler, Treston Decoud, and now Jalen Collins are all gone, and Arjen Colquhoun retired. It’s not that unusual. Look at any team in the last five years who brought in a new coordinator. My Cincinnati Bengals just went through this. A new defensive coordinator came in and got rid of three Pro Bowl players. We all yelled about it, then they went to the Super Bowl.

Coordinators and coaches like to work with their guys. Look how many Stampeders Coach Dinwiddie brought in. The only offensive starter Coach Dinwiddie kept when he arrived was Jamal Campbell, and he was released earlier this year.

Look, maybe it was something else entirely, but this seems the most likely explanation to me. If you trust in the Argos management and Coach Mace, and I do, you just have to accept that he’s going to build his defense with his guys. You can complain about it, but there probably wasn’t going to be a situation where Collins was playing corner in Toronto in 2022.

I think he’s a great corner, and he’s been an entertaining player to cover since his arrival last fall. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t do well in Edmonton next to Treston Decoud under Chris Jones, but he's a Jones guy. Collins signed in Toronto 10 days after Chris Jones took over the defense. Jones wants his guys in Edmonton, and now he's got another one.

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