12. What if Nick Collins never suffered a career-ending injury?
Nick Collins suffered a career-ending injury in 2011 against the Carolina Panthers and the injury is still impacting the Packers. They lost an All-Pro safety who is one of the strongest leaders that the team has had in the past decade.
The Packers have found some stability at the safety position recently with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett but neither of those guys are what Collins was.
What if Nick Collins hadn’t suffered a career-ending injury?
The Packers would have been better defensively in the early 2010s and they would maybe have had more success in the playoffs, especially in 2011 and 2012.
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The Packers were upset in the 2011 divisional round by the Giants, and if Collins was playing in that game and the team didn’t have to deal with the shock of losing him during the season, that game could have turned out differently.
The same goes for the 2012 divisional round when the Packers played the San Francisco 49ers and struggled to contain Colin Kaepernick. If Collins was in that game and he kept on the All-Pro pace that he was at, he could have helped contain Kaepernick and that game could have had a different outcome.
I think Collins would have continued to be one of the best safeties in the game had he not suffered his injury in 2011 and I think he could have made another All-Pro team or two.
But I still don’t think Ted Thompson would have brought him back when his contract was up after the 2013 season was over as he would have been on the wrong side of 30.
Collins would have walked in free agency if Thompson decided to not bring him back in the 2014 offseason, and he would have signed a fairly lucrative deal for probably 3-4 years and could still potentially be playing today had his injury not happened.
I think he would have regressed from what he was if he had been playing this season or in 2016 but there is no reason why if he had stayed healthy why he couldn’t have been a difference maker even approaching his mid-30s.
Collins’ legacy would have been even better in Green Bay had he not suffered his injury and he may have been remembered with the likes of LeRoy Butler and Charles Woodson had his injury not happened.