La’el Collins’ time with the Cincinnati Bengals has come to an end.
The Bengals released the ninth-year right tackle from the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list, making him a free agent and freeing up $13 million in cap space over these next two seasons.
Collins was working back from a Dec. 24 knee injury, including tears of the MCL and ACL, that sidelined him at the end of his first season with the Bengals, who had signed him to a three-year deal as an unrestricted free agent during the 2022 offseason. He started the first 15 games at right tackle last season but hadn’t yet been cleared to practice and was placed on the Reserve/PUP list on Aug. 29.
The 30-year-old had a history of injuries with Dallas and wasn’t fully healthy starting last season as he was playing through a back issue that limited his practice time early on.
Cincinnati signed Orlando Brown Jr. this offseason and moved Jonah Williams to right tackle, but Collins said he was progressing through rehab and hoping to be back midseason to compete for his job again.
“I think that’s the given,” Collins said on Aug. 14. “From my standpoint as a competitor, I’ve been doing this a long time, and obviously to get back on the field would be the end goal. Right now is the execution part where you have to stay locked in day to day ... on the process, more than the results because I know that will take care of itself.”
Williams, a 2019 first-round draft pick who is playing on a fifth-year option, allowed one sack Sunday in the 24-3 loss to the Browns to open the season. He received a grade of 49.0 from Pro Football Focus, but it’s unclear if the decision to release Collins is a sign the organization believes Williams can hold down that right tackle spot.
Releasing Collins costs $3.4 million in dead cap space this year and $1.67 million in dead cap space next year, but he would have been a $9.4 million cap hit this season and $8.67 million next year.