Jermichael Finley makes a reception against the Seattle Seahawks. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Jermichael Finley: Look for him to have a great season

Jermichael Finley can line up just about anywhere on the field to keep defenses guessing. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Barring injury, this might be the season that Jermichael Finley breaks it open for the Green Bay Packers.

Not only is Finley set to bring it because he’s in the final season of a two-year contract extension, the Packers gave him a boost this spring by guaranteeing his roster spot by honoring the money due him the second year of his contract. On top of that, the Packers didn’t touch a tight end in the draft, with the exception of Jake Stoneburner who was signed as an undrafted free agent.

Finley, who has been the bane of many fans’ existence because of his penchant for dropping passes at the most inopportune times, as well as running his mouth about the most unfortunate topics – namely the quarterback who throws him passes – is still the best the Packers have at the position. And because of that, I see Finley’s production – should he stay healthy – increase dramatically this year.

The Packers have beefed up the running back position with the additions of Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, and Angelo Pease and it seems they are committed to moving the ball on the ground. Not only should this open the field for the wideouts, but should also open the Packers offensive scheme to involving a player like Finley who can stretch the middle of a defense.

Finley showed us all last year during the second half of the season what he is capable of adding to the Packers offense. In the final seven games of the regular season last year after the bye, he caught 32 passes for  396 yards and had only a couple of drops during that time.

Can he duplicate that effort? Not only does he have to, but I feel is on target to bring his A game in 2013. His competition will be minimal – Matthew Mulligan comes in as a free agent signing designated to take over the Tom Crabtree blocking role, D.J. Williams was seen as a player with a huge upside, but has done little on the field, Andrew Quarless has a long uphill climb to get back to his 2010 status, Ryan Taylor may have worn out his welcome as a special-teamer, Jake Stoneburner has a great name, but also has a huge uphill climb and Brandon Bostick is probably the most intriguing, but has been a huge project.

Finley is still the starter and the most productive, despite all the haters out there. He will be motivated this year – to the point where the Packers may actually look at extending his contract even longer, if they can get him at their price. If they don’t, he will most likely walk. Of course, he wants big numbers so he can be a hot commodity when free agency comes around. Having huge numbers benefits both the Packers and Finley. The team gets a year of solid production out of him and he gets the big contract.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

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