CARDINALS CORNER

Zaven Collins not letting Cardinals’ 5th-year option decision hold him back

May 22, 2024, 2:18 PM

Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Zaven Collins’ mindset remains unchanged despite the team’s decision against picking up his fifth-year option this offseason.

The way general manager Monti Ossenfort handled the situation played a big part in that.

“I went to Monti and said, ‘Just tell me straight up.’ … It’s like a band-aid, just rip it off,” Collins told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “He brought me in, he was like, ‘Hey, Z, we’re not going to pick up your fifth-year option.’ I was like, ‘Thank you. I respect that. I appreciate you being honest with me and bringing me up here and telling me.’

“Sometimes I’ve seen where it’s drawn out and guys aren’t coming in the building for this. I don’t do that. I don’t want to do that. That’s not what I’m about. I just want to be here with the team. That’s it. Even when they told me, I was there the next day, the day after. I’ve been here ever since. Is it disappointing? Yes, of course, because you always want the best option for yourself. But it’s a part of the NFL business.”

Collins enters a contract year looking to make a name for himself as an NFL pass rusher in a new-look defense under head coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis.

Although his 2023 stats didn’t jump off the page for a starting edge rusher — 3.5 sacks, six tackles for loss, one interception, three passes defensed — Cardinals outside linebackers coach Robert Rodriguez, Rallis and many of his teammates have applauded Collins’ efforts outside of just his pass-rushing abilities.

Rallis also believes the best is yet to come for the linebacker in the desert.

“He knows that we see him in the future going forward,” Rallis told Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “He’s a huge piece of what we do defensively and as a team. A leader in the locker room. He knows he’s a huge part of this team now and going forward. I don’t see (the fifth-year option decision) impacting him at all. That’s the resilient mindset of him.

“He’s going to show up and work every single day no matter what. He knows he wants to take his game to the next level and that’s my expectation for him and we’re going to get it there.”

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