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Cardinals Decline To Pick Up Zaven Collins Option

Linebacker will be a free agent after 2024 season

Linebacker Zaven Collins takes part in voluntary workouts Tuesday in Tempe.
Linebacker Zaven Collins takes part in voluntary workouts Tuesday in Tempe.

Zaven Collins remains in the Cardinals' long-term plans, GM Monti Ossenfort said Tuesday.

But the Cardinals have declined the linebacker's fifth-year option, Ossenfort added, meaning Collins will be playing on the final year of his contract in 2024.

"We've had discussions with Zaven," Ossenfort said during an appearance on the "Burns and Gambo" show on Arizona Sports. "We are extremely happy with where he is at and the versatility that Zaven brings to our defense."

Had the Cardinals picked up the option, Collins would have made a little more than $13 million in 2025.

Collins moved to outside linebacker in 2023 after spending his first two years inside, and while he had only 3.5 sacks, the coaching staff was encouraged by his all-around game and he played the most snaps of any outside linebacker in coordinator Nick Rallis' rotation.

Collins also had an interception and 41 tackles, showing the ability to both rush and drop into coverage. The Cardinals added fifth-rounder Xavier Thomas to the mix on the edge, but coach Jonathan Gannon said pre-draft he likes his OLB room and the growth potential. BJ Ojulari, a second-round pick, is expected to make a jump this season, as is Collins while he has a second year at the spot.

"We want to keep Zaven around here," Ossenfort said. "It's just the fifth-year option, it removes some flexibility in terms of the (salary) cap. We're going to have some discussions here. Love Zaven, love where he's at, love what he brings for our defense and hopefully (we) keep him around here for a long time."

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