The Green Bay Packers have released free safety Nick Collins today according to a report from Jason Wilde at ESPN-Milwaukee. This decision has been hanging around us all since Collins saw his season end just two games in after suffering a severe neck injury against the Carolina Panthers.
Collins was one of the most beloved Packers on the entire roster, and his overall performance on the field is what caused so many fans to fall in love with him as a player. Collins was voted to three straight Pro Bowls heading into the 2011 season, and was also a member of three straight All-Pro Teams.
No one will ever forget his interception that was returned for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was that play that was the catalyst for the Packers to bring the Lombardi Trophy home after so many years.
Now the Packers need to figure out what to do without Collins, and it’ll all start tomorrow with the 2012 NFL draft. Instead of being able to focus on outside linebacker and defensive line early in the draft, Ted Thompson and the Packers will now need to add safety to their positions of greatest need for the 2012 season.
Some names to keep an eye on in the first or second round for Green Bay are Harrison Smith, George Iloka and Brandon Taylor. Each of these prospects could eventually replace the production that fans were used to seeing from Collins.
Whatever happens in the upcoming days, there are two things that we can be assured of. One is that the Packers will figure out how to survive without Collins. They went 15-1 without him last year, and now they’ll be prepared.
Secondly, we can be assured that Collins will always be remembered as one of the greatest defensive players in Packers history, despite only playing a few seasons for the team. He was simply that talented, and he’ll be missed by all.