St George Illawarra centre Dylan Farrell could be forced into premature retirement due to a serious back injury.
Farrell managed only 13 NRL games in 2015 and is yet to return to pre-season training.
“It is not looking great,” Dragons coach Paul McGregor told News Corp Australia.
“He can’t lift his kids up so that is not a good thing.
“But I think (a decision on his future) is a few weeks away. He is only young.”
If the 24-year-old, who has scored 32 tries in 92 games with South Sydney and the Dragons, does retire, it could open the door for NSW Origin fullback Josh Dugan to return to the centres.
Dugan is set to begin training in mid-December after undergoing neck surgery.
He scored nine tries in 10 matches in the position in 2014 and played there for the Blues before swapping back to the No.1 jersey in 2015.
Alternatively, the Dragons could pick up free agent Tim Lafai, who was released from Canterbury last week, or Peta Hiku, who is reportedly on the outer at Manly.
“I haven’t spoken to Tim (Lafai) or his management,” McGregor said. “Obviously my recruitment will look at that (this week) because that has only now just come about.
“We have spoken to Peta Hiku, he has obviously got two other clubs interested.
“We have shown interest because he is certainly a quality footballer and for a player like that to come on the market so late and you have got room in your cap, you’d be silly not to have a look at that type of player.”
The Dragons have already purchased outside backs Kurt Mann, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Adam Quinlan during the off-season.