This has been a tumultuous and game-changing week for the Green Bay Packers, even though they haven’t made a single move to acquire a free agent player.
Restricted free agents Sam Shields and Evan Dietrich-Smith were tendered contracts and Robert Francois re-signed with the team – all on the cheap. In addition, linebacker A.J. Hawk restructured his contract so he could stay with the team.
What does that mean for the Packers as they inch closer to the NFL Draft?
Well, nobody’s absolutely sure as free agent deals still could come about (Ahmad Bradshaw?) and, most importantly, the Packers still have to decide what to do with Jermichael Finley who is due a $4.45 million roster bonus March 27. There have been no negotiations with Finley and he was most recently quoted a few weeks ago saying he wasn’t interested in taking a pay cut.
With the Packers allowing Crabtree to walk, one would think that Finley is probably safe.
However, the lack of communication between the two camps makes one wonder what’s going through Ted Thompson’s head. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy really likes Finley as a player and said so at his season-ending press conference. Finley came alive in the second half of last season, but one wonders if that’s enough to convince everyone at 1265 Lombardi Avenue to keep Finley around for at least another year.
Finley is going on the final year of a two-year contract that will count $8.75 million against the salary cap. Is that too much for Ted Thompson’s taste? On the surface, one would have to say yes, mostly because that in addition to the dollars mentioned above there buried beneath all of that ia the history and baggage Finley brings with him. He’s been critical of his quarterback; his agent has been critical of his quarterback; Finley has said he will walk if told he needs to take a pay cut; his agent said Finley won’t walk and that negotiations over the issue would be taken seriously.
But with all that drama in the past, one also wonders if the Packers want to keep a player who is in the final year of his contract and will most likely walk unless the team offers some kind of restructuring deal that could include an extension.
On the field, is he valuable enough to expend that amount? Most say yes. He’s a huge talent who pulls a lot of defensive attention his way and opens the field for other receivers. This is true. In all, last year Finley caught 61 passes for 667 yards. He scored two touchdowns.
However, in the second half of the season, he was consistent – though he dropped off the map in the playoffs.
Here was his production the final nine games, including playoffs:
Nov. 18: 3 catches for 66 yards
Nov. 25: 3 catches for 51 yards
Dec. 2: 6 catches for 60 yards
Dec. 9: 2 catches for 16 yards
Dec. 16: 5 catches for 61 yards
Dec, 23: 5 catches for 70 yards
Dec. 30: 8 catches for 72 yards
Playoffs: Versus Minnesota he had 1 catch for 10 yards; versus San Francisco he had four catches for 35 yards.
In total, that’s 37 receptions for 441 yards.
The question everyone needs to ask – is whether that production is worthy of nearly $9 million per year?
Ted Thompson will have final say in this matter and the decision will come soon.