NFL News and Rumors: La’el Collins’ agents granted permission to seek trade, breaking down Christian Kirksey deal

The NFL free agency legal tampering period begins on Monday at 12 PM ET. Teams around the league are getting ready for that and the official start of free agency on Wednesday at 4 PM ET. Here’s a look at today’s NFL News and Rumors on March 12.

NFL News and Rumors: Saints restructure Marshon Lattimore’s contract

The New Orleans Saints restructured standout cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s contract, creating $18.45 million in salary-cap savings under his five-year, $97.6 million contract.

It was a simple restructure of his salary converted into a signing bonus.

The Saints have also restructured contracts for wide receiver Michael Thomas, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and offensive guard Andrus Peat.

NFL News and Rumors: Panthers restructure Pat Elflein’s contract

The Carolina Panthers restructured center Pat Elflein’s contract, converting $4.865 million of his salary into a signing bonus in a simple restructure that nets $2.432 million in salary cap space.

Elflein is Carolina’s starting center. He has 58 career starts and has also played for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.

The Panthers have also restructured deals for offensive tackle Taylor Moton and linebacker Shaq Thompson.

NFL News and Rumors: Texans agree to terms with Chris Conley

The Texans are re-signing veteran wide receiver Chris Conley to a one-year contract, according to a team source. Conley, represented by Sportstars, caught 22 passes for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. Conley (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) also delivered outstanding downfield blocking.

For his career, Conley has 213 career receptions for 2,807 yards and 15 touchdowns. The former Kansas City Chiefs third-round draft pick from Georgia holds the NFL Scouting Combine record with a 45-inch vertical leap and has run the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds.

Conley has also played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2019, he caught 47 passes for 775 yards and 5 touchdowns, and in 2020, he had 40 catches for 471 yards and 2 scores before joining the Texans.

Now, Conley is back for his second season in Houston.

La’el Collins’ agents granted permission to seek trade

The Dallas Cowboys are ready to move on from veteran offensive tackle La’el Collins and have empowered his agents to find a trade partner. Collins, represented by agents Peter Schaffer and Deryk Gilmore, is a candidate for release if a trade isn’t able to be worked out because of the Cowboys’ confidence in Terence Steele as an expected replacement, according to sources.

Collins has missed 21 games with injuries and suspensions over the past two years. If he’s not able to be traded, Collins could be cut with a savings of $10 million against the salary cap as a designated post-June 1 release. He’s due a $10 million base salary this year. He’s also due $10 million base salaries in 2023 and 2024 that are not guaranteed.

Last season, Collins served a five-game suspension for a violation of the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. The punishment was triggered by a missed test. He played in 10 games in 2021.

A former undrafted free agent from LSU, Collins restructured his five-year, $50 million contract last year. A former Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner at LSU, he signed with the Cowboys in 2015 as an undrafted free agent due to concerns about a pending legal matter at the time of the draft.

Before that legal matter surfaced, most teams and draft experts expected Collins to be drafted in the first round. He has started 71 of 74 career games and is a former All-SEC selection.

Breaking down Christian Kirksey’s two-year deal

The Houston Texans’ contract for veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey has a maximum value of $10.5 million, according to a league source.

It has a base value of $8 million, including a $2 million signing bonus, and base salaries of $2 million and $4 million. The deal has up to $1 million in annual per-game roster bonuses and $250,000 in annual incentives.

Kirksey is regarded as a team leader and has been a defensive captain who communicates the defensive signals from coach Lovie Smith.

A former Cleveland Browns third-round draft pick from Iowa, Kirksey underwent thumb surgery last season and was placed on injured reserve before returning to play. He recorded 93 tackles, no sacks, 1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, and 8 pass deflections.

Kirksey was signed to a one-year contract by the Texans last season after being cut by the Green Bay Packers one year into a two-year, $16 million contract with a failed physical designation due to a torn pectoral.

The Browns previously signed him to a four-year, $38 million extension that included $20 million guaranteed.

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