Nick Collins: All-Pro Safety Will Be Missed, but Packers' Decision a Right One

Jon GillContributor IApril 25, 2012

Nick Collins celebrates in Super Bowl XLV
Nick Collins celebrates in Super Bowl XLVKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It is hard, if not almost impossible, to replace a Pro-Bowler and All-Pro.

Teams are always trying to find the next big thing, but for every gem they find, they end up with a few busts. If it were as easy to find those types of players as everyone thinks, every roster would be bursting with them.

It is fairly obvious that it is not that easy.

As the Green Bay Packers found out last year, they have a big pair of shoes to fill at safety with the release of Nick Collins.

He was a playmaker in the secondary and a leader to the whole defense whose accomplishments will not be easily replaced. In his six years in the green and yellow (not including his injury-shortened 2011), he had 405 tackles and 21 interceptions.

The Packers hit it big by drafting him, and are going to lose a lot of production out of the ball-hawking safety.

The Packers' pass defense was a point of weakness last year, and it could be argued that Collins' injury was a large portion of the problem. By releasing him, they are getting rid of a player that could come in and instantly improve the defense.

It will take a lot to be able to replace his production. ranked him the 96th-best player in the league after the 2010 season, and it will take a few years to draft and develop a player who can play at that level.

However, the Packers made the right decision by releasing Collins. He underwent cervical fusion surgery last year, and Green Bay was not comfortable enough letting him play on his repaired neck.

Some people say that Peyton Manning had the same surgery, and because he was cleared to play, Collins should also be cleared. Each person heals differently from surgery.

Also, Collins will take more hits to his neck than Manning because of his style of play and the fact that he is a safety, and is therefore involved in most plays. It was a classy move on the part of Green Bay to release him.

They are looking after his well-being instead of going the win-at-all-costs approach some teams use. Mike McCarthy recently said that "If Nick was my son, I would not let him play." It shows that the Packers are looking after the player and his family, instead of just the team.

As hard as it is to see a player of that caliber leave the team, it is for the best. Nick Collins should seriously consider retiring and enjoying his life. He is 28 years old, and has a wife and three children at home. He can retire from football and enjoy his family and, possibly even more important, know that he will be able to keep his health.