Nick Collins

Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins will know soon if he’s medically cleared to play this season after undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Even if he gets the go ahead from his doctor, which seems likely, that doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily get the go ahead from the Packers.

Coach Mike McCarthy has previously stated he wouldn’t want Collins playing again if he were his son. If Collins is cleared medically, but doesn’t get clearance from the team to return he could end up playing elsewhere.

As badly as they need the three-time Pro Bowl selection back in their lineup, they have stopped just short of telling him he should retire. Sometime before the end of the month they will meet with Collins and his agents and make a decision whether to clear him.

McCarthy has said there must be a consensus among those in the room for that to happen. If the Packers decide they don’t want to accept the risk, Collins could ask for his release and play for another team.

It’s beginning to look like Collins will be on the field in 2012. He wants to play and wouldn’t be the first player to return from spinal fusion surgery. It puts the Packers in an unenviable position.

The team needs Collins. Their pass defense was atrocious in 2011 without him, but McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson seem reluctant to put him in harm’s way. If the team doesn’t clear Collins, they’ll likely have to draft his replacement.

If it plays out like that and Collins doesn’t retire, there would surely be a team that would be happy to add a three-time Pro Bowler to their roster.