Report: Packers DL Johnny Jolly Set to Return from Neck Surgery

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly expects to receive medical clearance on his surgically repaired neck, perhaps before the start of free agency.

The Packers infamously poor fortune with neck injuries appears to changing.

Less than a week after head coach Mike McCarthy expressed optimism for Jermichael Finley's return, it appears that defensive lineman Johnny Jolly expects similarly good news.

ESPN's Rob Demovsky reports that Jolly underwent single fusion neck surgery on January 10, and his agent Jack Bechta believes his client could be cleared by the time free agency kicks off on March 11.

While that's certainly good news for Jolly, it doesn't necessarily mean the market will warm up to him. Jolly missed three seasons to drug-related legal troubles, and just celebrated his 31st birthday. Moreover, the 2014 free agent class is filled with younger, more productive options at his position. That could be good news for the Packers, who would re-sign Jolly for around the veteran minimum.

Other factors that will determine Jolly's fate in Green Bay are the contract situations with fellow defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett. After turning down a multi-year deal worth around $8 million annually, Raji's market is one of the most hotly debated topics of the offseason. Pickett isn't expected to draw nearly as much attention, but even at 34 he remains a viable nose tackle. If the Packers reach extensions with Raji and Pickett, there may not be room left on the roster for Jolly.

But this speculation is premature. Jolly needs to receive medical clearance before he can sign with Packers or anyone else.

Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Hook'em Headlines. His work has previously appeared on Beats Per Minute, Lombardi Ave, and College Hoops Net.
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