Nick Collins: Why Philadelphia Eagles Must Look at Signing the Former Pro Bowler

Louis MustoContributor IIIApril 25, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Nick Collins #36 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammate Clay Matthews #52 after Collins returned an interception for a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Packers won 31-25. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles made a big splash by finally dealing elite cornerback Asante Samuel to the Atlanta Falcons for what ESPN reported to be a seventh-round draft pick. But they should not be done making moves just yet.

ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde reports that the Green Bay Packers have released three-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins.

The decision to release Collins comes months after a devastating neck injury suffered in the Packers’ Week 2 matchup with the Carolina Panthers forced the treasured safety to miss the final 14 games of the 2011 season.

At this time, there is no evidence to say Collins will be unable to play football again, but the Packers clearly had enough concerns about his health to warrant moving forward without him, much to the franchise’s dismay, as general manager Ted Thompson displayed:

From the beginning of this process, we have taken our time and sought numerous medical opinions while maintaining consistent dialogue with Nick. In the end, we were not comfortable clearing him to play again. As with all of our players, Nick is a member of our family and we thought of him that way as we came to this conclusion.

Nick Collins was a defensive presence for the Packers in his first six seasons with the team, starting 95 games while tallying 21 career interceptions.

His play in Green Bay garnered him the honors of being considered one of the top safeties in the NFL.

Should it be possible for Collins to see the field again, the Eagles must consider adding him.

There is no greater weakness among the Eagles’ top-notch defensive unit than the safety position. That was fairly evident this past season as player-after-player performed in a dismal fashion at both safety spots.

Third-year safety Nate Allen will get another opportunity to prove his worth at the free safety spot after playing better down the stretch. However, neither Allen nor the strong safety spot likely to be filled by Jaiquawn Jarrett are certain to be any better in 2012.

With highly valued prospect Mark Barron unlikely to fall to the Eagles at No. 15 in the draft, Andy Reid and company are in a difficult position when looking at a weak safety class.

Meanwhile, Collins—a proven veteran with an outstanding track record—would infuse a heap of talent and leadership the Eagles have lacked in their defensive backfield since the departure of the beloved Brian Dawkins.

With so much uncertainty surrounding his ability to play, the risk of adding Collins would likely knock his price tag down to the veteran minimum. The reward that could come from fielding a healthy, capable Collins is unimaginable for such a price.

Better suited at free safety and assuming he is healthy, the Eagles would need to find a way to work Collins into the lineup while not harming chemistry or putting anyone out of position—Collins included. The Pro Bowl safety saw some time at strong safety during college, but is a much better cover man and benefits a defense greater playing free safety.

Regardless, the Eagles should inquire about adding Collins to the roster, if not for the play he is capable of on the gridiron, then for his ability as a leader and mentor to the team’s young safeties.


Louis Musto is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter here.