One of the silliest offseason stories has been Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins' "boycott" of the Packers' offseason program.
Would it be nice if Collins had locked himself inside Lambeau Field to pick the brain of defensive coordinator Dom Capers and safeties coach Darren Perry to make himself an expert in the new defensive scheme?
Of course it would be.
Is it a big deal that he's been absent for most of the offseason?
For those of you who aren't aware, there's this thing called technology. Telephone, text message and e-mail. Just a guess, but Collins probably hasn't been lounging around his Florida home playing Mr. Mom to his newborn third child while ignoring his duties to his employer. Besides, the offseason program does not consist of 11-on-11 practices that would be especially worthwhile. Rather, the offseason program consists of working out and personalized sessions with the coaches that includes film study. Not trivial stuff, but at least the film study can be handled via DVD. Ahh, technology.
Collins took advantage of more technology — an airplane — to attend at least a portion of the offseason program last week, McCarthy confirmed while meeting with reporters on Sunday morning.
"Sometimes, people want to blend the business and the football part of it together," said McCarthy, noting Collins spent "a lot of time" with Perry and met with himself and Capers.
"In my opinion, that's not a benefit for the football team," McCarthy continued. "We respect everybody's business situations. He's going through one right now. But we do have a new defense, and Nick is a main communicator in that defense, and for him to come in here and to work with Darren Perry and try to catch up on what's been going on here is important."
Collins is set to make $3.045 million in base salary in 2009 and is scheduled to be a free agent following the season, pending developments on the collective bargaining agreement.
That's not exactly chump change. Comparing Collins' 2009 salary to the highest-paid safeties in 2008 (not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison), his base salary would rank fourth in the league. His new cap value of $3.428 million would rank 11th on last year's list of safety salaries. And while Collins seemingly has earned the job security provided by a long-term contract extension, there's plenty of time to get a deal hammered out.
Collins' agent, Dave Butz Jr., did not respond to interview requests.
Boycotting the offseason program — if that's what you want to call it — will become a bigger deal if he's absent from a majority of the organized team activities that begin in three weeks. That's when the 11-on-11 practices will give the defensive players more of a real-world education into Capers' defense.
"I definitely could see him coming back in the near future," McCarthy said.
Of note, Collins is scheduled to participate in the Packers' "Tailgate Tour," with stops in Marshfield (May 11), Hudson (May 12), Platteville (May 13) and Beaver Dam (May 14). His participation, or lack thereof, would be noteworthy.
Could the Collins' situation develop into a replay of Ryan Grant's messy negotiation? Anything's possible, but Collins' appearance last week should put those doom-and-gloom scenarios on the back burner.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.