Decision on Sean Richardson's future with the Packers still a ways off

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When Sean Richardson injured his neck last season for the second time in his NFL career, most assumed his playing days were over.

But the Green Bay Packers safety isn’t ready to shut it down just yet.

Richardson’s agent, Brian Parker, said at the NFL scouting combine last week that his client plans to pursue a comeback even though, as far as they know, no one has ever played in the league after a second fusion surgery. Richardson’s second surgery occurred in January, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last month.

Four years earlier, Richardson had the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae in his neck fused together following an injury during his rookie season.

Richardson essentially missed a year – the second half of 2012 and the first half of the 2013 season – after his first surgery. He played the final seven games of 2013, all of 2014 and the first three games of last season before he felt something unusual in his neck during a practice and was immediately shut down.

Parker said Richardson, 26, is still in the early rehab process and couldn’t comment on what steps the player still has to take in order to get cleared, but he acknowledged it’s a long road – one that Richardson is willing to pursue.

Complicating matters is that Richardson is scheduled to become a free agent next week. He played last season under a one-year, $2.55 million deal after the Packers matched the restricted free agent offer he got from Oakland.

Richardson is one of the few players the Packers have cleared to return from neck fusion surgery. Safety Nick Collins and tight end Jermichael Finley were never cleared by team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie to return following their procedures, never played for another team and have since retired.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week at the combine that he wasn’t sure what Richardson’s future was with the organization.

“I don’t know that,” McCarthy said. “That’s a conversation that I haven’t been a part of with Pat McKenzie. I know that he feels really good about it. … He looks like he’s starting to get back into it, because he really thinned down there for a while. I’m not sure, we haven’t talked about him medically.”