BEREA, Ohio — The winless Cleveland Browns were perceived to be sellers, not buyers, on the eve of the NFL’s trade deadline. They proved that theory wrong Monday.

Cleveland acquired Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins from the Patriots in exchange for a conditional third-round draft choice, bolstering a defense that has allowed the most yards in the league.

“We traded for a great player, and that says a lot about our front office,” Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor said. “When I heard we got Jamie Collins, I was so excited and so ecstatic. His athleticism and versatility are tremendous, and he’s experienced.

“We got better today. The future ain’t what it used to be.”

The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder was a second-round selection by New England in 2013. He is earning $485,928 in the final year of his rookie contract, but negotiations for a new pact had stalled.

The Boston Globe cited a source who said the Patriots were “having a lot of trouble” negotiating a long-term contract with Collins, who turned down $11 million per year from New England. If the Browns can’t reach a long-term contract with Collins, he would be a candidate for their franchise tag, which is projected to be worth about $15 million for a linebacker.


“In the end, we did what we thought was best for the football team,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said during his weekly radio interview on WEEI. “There are a lot of things to take into consideration. I’m sure we could bring up a lot of points to talk about, but in the end, that’s really the bottom line.”

Collins led the Patriots in tackles in 2014 and 2015, and started every defensive snap in their Super Bowl victory after the 2014 season. He has 285 tackles, 101/2 sacks and five interceptions in 50 career games.

His playing time was recently reduced, however. In a 41-25 win Sunday against Buffalo, Collins was on the field for 48 of 70 defensive snaps and was credited with only two tackles.

Pryor and Collins, both 27-year-old pending unrestricted free agents, will receive huge raises if they hit the open market, but the Browns have the ability to prevent that with their NFL-high $47.6 million in salary cap room. They are only permitted to use the franchise tag on one player.

“I don’t think we want to try Collins out, I think we would love to keep him,” Cleveland Coach Hue Jackson said. “We know what he is, we know what he brings to the table, and I don’t think we would have done this if we didn’t think there was an opportunity to move forward with him.”

New England could wind up with a 2017 third-rounder or a 2018 fourth-round choice in the deal, depending on if he resigns with the Browns.

Collins has 43 tackles, two interceptions and one sack in seven games this season, sitting out one contest because of a hip injury. He was an Associated Press second team All-Pro in 2015, when he was chosen for his first Pro Bowl.

Jackson said he was uncertain if Collins will play inside or outside linebacker Sunday, when the Browns host Dallas.

“This young man, I think he gets it, so there are several things he can do,” said Jackson, whose squad is 0-8. “Let’s get him here and we’ll see where his comfort level is and what is most important to him. We will definitely find ways to plug him in and have him be a contributing member of our defense.”

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