The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t a team that goes after high-priced free agents during the offseason as they choose instead to shop in the bargain bin. With it looking like veteran free safety Ryan Clark might not be back in 2014, the Steelers could use a low-priced veteran with experience to fill his void for one or two season until a younger draft pick is fully groomed for the long-term.
With the above being said, you have to wonder if the Steelers might have interest in kicking the tires of former Green Bay Packers free safety Nick Collins, who suggested Monday on Twitter that he will attempt a comeback in 2014 after sitting out the last two plus seasons because of a serious neck injury.
Collins, now 30, recorded 21 interceptions and 417 total tackles during his first seven years in the league. Since undergoing cervical fusion surgery back in September of 2011, however, the Packers never cleared him to play and as a result released him in April of 2012.
“From the beginning of this process, we have taken our time and sought numerous medical opinions while maintaining consistent dialogue with Nick,” said Packers general manager Ted Thompson upon releasing the former second-round draft pick. “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.”
While Collins might feel like he’s ready to resume he’s playing career, medical staffs around the league might think otherwise. In addition to that, being out of football for nearly three full seasons would be a very tough obstacle to overcome.
At the very least, the Steelers have nothing to lose by bringing in Collins for a workout and a physical. If he’s cleared and hasn’t lost his skills, he can likely be had for a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum. In addition, he should have an understanding of the Steelers defense having played for Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers since 2009.
I’ll admit that this is very unlikely to happen, but it’s worth keeping an eye on nonetheless. More than anything else, it would be nice to see Collins make it all the way back even if it’s not with the Steelers. You hate to see players be forced out of the game while on top of it because of an injury and that’s exactly what happened with Collins, a three-time Pro Bowler.