Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers tight end whose career was brought into question this past season after suffering a severe neck injury, told profootballtalk.com today that he expects his doctor to clear him for contact within the next month and indicated that he was confident he would be playing football once again in 2014.
All the talk over the past three months has been that Finley would never again touch a football field – the popular notion has been that he will never play again for the Green Bay Packers for a couple of reasons – the Packers have shied away from players who have had neck injuries (remember Nick Collins?) and his salary demands would price him out of town.
Finley clearly isn’t concerned about those issues. He has said all along that he will be playing football next year, whether it’s with the Packers or somewhere else.
So, just what will the Packers decide to do with Finley? The team last signed him to a two-year contract, which expired at the end of this past season. Will they do so again – and consider taking a chance on a guy who will demand anywhere from $8 to 10 million per-year and probably want a long-term deal?
Or do they let him walk?
The Packers surprised everyone last year by picking up the final year of his contract. We all know how much head coach Mike McCarthy likes Finley, even though the tight end has raised the cackles of Packers fans with his antics in the media and on social media. Couple that with the fact that he’s drawn the ire of so many for his penchant in dropping balls.
This season, while playing in a contract year, Finley was on his way to a breakout season and a huge contract before going down with the season-ending neck injury. He finished the season with 25 catches for an even 300 yards (12-yard average) and three touchdowns. He was showing his value to the team, but also had some catches and runs that illustrated the athlete he could be. He was fast becoming a favorite target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The next few weeks will surely be interesting, especially if Finley does indeed get medical clearance to participate once again.
In my opinion, I feel the Packers will at least look very hard at the situation and could make an offer to Finley to stay in Green Bay if they are confident he has healed up and could continue to contribute long-term. It will cost them dearly, but it also looks like the team may lose backup tight end Andrew Quarless to free agency. Some might say it would be wise to let the more expensive Finley head down the road and re-sign Quarless long-term.
If the Packers do indeed lose both of those players, they will be forced to use anywhere from a second to mid-round draft pick on a tight end.
Stay tuned on this one …