Just a few years ago, Austin Collie was a promising NFL receiver.
After being taken in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft out of BYU by the Colts, Collie put up some big numbers in Indianapolis.
In 16 games as a rookie, he caught 60 balls for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. In a full season in 2011, he caught 54 passes for 514 yards and a score. And in just nine games in 2010, he had 58 receptions for 649 yards and eight TDs.
But the former BYU receiver suffered several injuries with the Colts, including at least three concussions and a knee injury in 2012 that limited him to just one game and one catch.
Now, as a 27-year-old free agent, he’s looking to land with a new team – many of which are scared off by his previous concussions. Collie, however, told USA Today recently that he’d sign a waiver to clear any team of responsibility if he suffers another concussion.
“They’re not going to have to worry about me suing,” he told the newspaper. “I’ll hold myself accountable.”
One team that reportedly still has Collie on its radar is the 49ers. Another is the Baltimore Ravens. But neither has made a move on Collie yet, with training camps set to open later this month.
Marc Sessler of NFL.com reported this past weekend that the Niners are keeping Collie in their sights as an insurance policy, and could sign him once training camp gets under way if they believe they need to bring in another wide receiver. First, however, the 49ers want to see if some of their young players – Quinton Patton, A.J. Jenkins, Marlon Moore and Ricardo Lockette – appear ready to contribute. If they are, then, says Sessler, the 49ers probably won’t call Collie.
“Collie’s experience is a plus,” wrote Sessler. “But his long-standing concussion issues make (him) a risk.”
Collie, who played at Oak Ridge High in El Dorado, near Sacramento, worked out for the 49ers in June. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has reported that Collie has passed all neurological tests associated with concussions, and also has a sound knee again after tearing his patella tendon in 2012. Barrows reports Collie also had a workout with the Patriots.
If the talent pool appears shallow in the group of Patton, Jenkins, Moore and Lockette, then Collie could be an early option.
“If none proves himself worthy, an inexpensive veteran such as Collie would be of interest,” wrote Barrows.
So far, Collie is just waiting for that phone to ring. Will he still be around if the 49ers need him? That’s the question.