The NFL combine has come and gone.
However, for the Pack, there is plenty of business a bit closer to home that needs attending.
Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins received a first and third round tender yesterday, as he became one of nine Packer players to become restricted free agents.
Collins, a second round pick in 2005, just completed his fifth year in Green Bay, starting 77 matches whilst only missing three in 2007.
Over the past two seasons, Collins has rapidly become one of the most productive safeties in the NFL. His 13 interceptions tops all safeties, with other Pro Bowl calibre players, Ed Reed (12), Darren Sharper (10), Troy Polamalu (10), and Brandon Meriweather (9) coming closely behind.
General Manger, Ted Thompson did not divulge much information last week at the combine with regards to Collins’ contract talks, however, he wasn’t afraid to share with the media how highly he rated his Pro Bowl safety.
“He's a marvelous athlete. He's got range, he's got hands, and he’s got anticipation. He's a good tackler. He's a good player. He's one of the core guys that we want to have."
The high priced tender received by Collins will probably keep the former Bethune-Cookman standout off the market, due to the high price in draft picks as compensation.
Collins’ agent, Alan Herman, has yet to speak with the Packers, however predicts negotiations should begin after the initial flourish of free agent signings.
Herman, who is also agent to Packer running back Ryan Grant, had a similar scenario in 2008. Grant sat out of all voluntary work in the offseason and first week of training camp before a deal was reconstructed by Herman and the Pack.
Last year, Collins sat from voluntary workouts, hoping he would be able to receive an extension. The extension never came and now he enters this offseason as a restricted free agent.
Grant, who sat a week of training camp, started slow in the 2008 season and never found his rhythm. Although rushing for 1,200 yards, Grant only managed 3.9 per carry and recorded just four rushing touchdowns, which was tied with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The same could well happen to Nick Collins if the situation is not sorted.
The Packers secondary was constantly being exposed by high power passing offences this year, most notably against Arizona. Kurt Warner surpassed 450 yards as he carved up Green Bay’s secondary and any hopes of Super Bowl glory.
Maybe Ted Thompson should take a gamble in free agency, or trade up in the draft to get a young stud that could fill a need for Green Bay.
However, what he must address before anything else, is securing a contract for Nick Collins. Collins has potential to be an All-Pro safety for Green Bay and Thompson would be foolish not to reward the playmaker the contract he deserves.