Jermichael Finley - will the Packers take a chance on bringing him back? Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Green Bay Packers Offseason Outlook: Jermichael Finley


Will Jermichael Finley be lining up for the Green Bay Packers next season? Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Will Jermichael Finley be lining up for the Green Bay Packers next season? Raymond T. Rivard photograph

 

Since the first day he took the field for the Green Bay Packers, Jermichael Finley has always been a tight end with great potential.

It used to be that potential was all we could really see in him. He was the definition of inconsistency and not living up to expectations or God-given talent.

That is, until the 2013 season. This season Finley showed up in a powerful way. He was much more sure handed than he had been in the past. Maybe his offseason commitment to donate cash for his drops was good motivation.

However, his hands were not the only thing to show improvement with the coming of the 2013 season. His game also showed greater determination and aggression than had displayed in the past. All in all, he became a much more reliable target for Rodgers and the Packers‘ high-octane offense. 2013 certainly looked like the year that Jermichael Finley was becoming the player the Packers hoped he would be when they selected him in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft. FinleyandRodgers

Then the injury occured. These injuries are the things that you can never prepare for and they are certainly the thing teams and players fear most. Finley’s spinal cord bruise was sustained during the fourth quarter of the week 7 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. The injury eventually required a spinal fusion surgery in mid-November, which reportedly went well.

Not only did this injury inhibit Finley from contributing to the remainder of the 2013 season, but it has many doubting his long-term status with the Packers. Even worse, many believe the odds of Finley being cleared to play in the league could be stacked against him.

For perspective, Nick Collins, the former Packers safety, also experienced a serious neck injury, which ended up being career ending. Many speculate that the same could happen to Finley. It should be noted that no two injuries are alike. Only time will tell us whether or not Finley will be able to return to football. His intentions are clear, however. He is determined to play again.

Now comes the hard part. Finley will be looking for a new contract this offseason. Many thought he was on his way out of Green Bay even without the recently-occurring injury. Finley accounts for nearly $9 million against the salary cap and ranks in the top 5 of Packers salaries.

I have great confidence in two things.

First, I am confident that the Green Bay Packers primary concern will be for the long-term health of Finley. They will not push him to do more than he should physically. I would not be surprised if the Packers medical staff and personnel department feel that the injury should be career-ending.

Secondly, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that even if Finley can return to football that Ted Thompson will be willing to keep him among the highest paid on the roster.

Nobody's really sure about the future for Jermichael Finley. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Nobody’s really sure about the future for Jermichael Finley.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Thompson will not take any large financial risks with Finley. Remember that Finley has been a player who often feels the need to “get paid.” I think the big question that no one is talking about in regards to Finley pertains to money. If he is medically cleared to play (and this is a big IF) one has to wonder if he will be willing to play for a reasonably smaller contract. I highly doubt this is the case.

Look for all of these factors to add up to a Finley-less Green Bay Packers roster in 2013.

The silver lining is the cap room that will be freed up in his absence. Look for Green Bay to target a tight end in this spring’s NFL draft. North Carolina’s Eric Ebron and Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro look to be potential first round picks.

However, it may be reasonable to think that one of these two or even Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins might fall to the second round. Assuming they all declare for the draft, this year’s TE class is potentially the best we have seen in at least 5 years.

Multiple tight ends have not been selected in the first round of the draft since 2006. My guess is that one of these three players will be available in round two. Packers fans, rest assured that Thompson will once again find a way to save valuable cap room, protect the health of Finley, and unearth talent in the NFL draft.

Will Finley be back to the Pack in ’14? Will one of the listed draft prospects take his place? Or will Andrew Quarless impress in the final weeks of the season and claim his place in the offense?

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Tags: Green Bay Packers Jermichael Finley

  • Josh Hart

    I thought Bostic was the future at TE for the Packers?

    • Vvait Fang

      Although I really would love to see JMike return, if he doesn’t I think the Pack would have to find another really tall TE who can block like heck. They need another, but different receiving threat, to balance out JJ and Cobb. A super TE would be a good answer for that.

  • billy

    Oh, dont worry, TT will save valuable cap room….if he has his way the Pack will probably trade out of the first round all together….nothing like a bunch of cheap 4-5th rounders…..how many tight ends have we had on the team the last four years?? One has turned out ok…the rest are TT’s type guys…cheap and average.

  • Taryn Miller

    He has suffered multiple injuries and the latest is the one of most importance.However,even if he was able to continue playing,why would any fan think TT should give him the money he has received since he has never really earned it even when healthy.The guy has confidence/hand issues….this guy drops way too many passes that ‘Elite’ should never come close to doing.He’ll need to prove he can play and catch to a high level for a solid season especially coming off the hit and injury suffered…a one year deal for $5 mill if he wants it ,if not….see ya!

  • Kyle Fellows

    Josh, I believe that Bostic could hold good value going forward. He simply hasn’t proved anything to this point. Quarless has been the most reliable in relief of JF. I can see a scenario in which TT waits on the TE position for one season to see what he has in these two. This would not be ideal, but with so many needs on the defensive side of the ball TT may not want to spend an early pick on the offensive side of the ball.

  • Vvait Fang

    The solution to FInley’s situation, IF he’s medically sound, is to offer him a deal similar to what they did for Crosby – cut the base salary, but let him make the same he would have if he meets milestones. Might be a touch harder to define the milestones for Finley, but its doable. If he earns his keep, let him make the $$. If he can’t, his kids will push him to retire. Finley might not go for the idea, wanting to get guaranteed money, and maybe another team would pay it. But to my thinking, if he wouldn’t go for such an offer, that’s probably good reason to worry more about his medical situation.

  • Peter Maiz

    Jace Amaro would be great but we need a super high quality safety on the draft first.

  • Ray Fadroski

    I don’t believe Finley was going to stay in with the Packers next year. He will not get the money he was looking at before the injury. I he is to stay with the packers he will most likely have and incentive laden contract. I believe the packers will draft a TE in the first or second rounds.