With Mike McCarthy’s optimism about Jermichael Finley’s return, the game just changed


Mike McCarthy

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was a font of information today during interviews at the NFL Combine as he talked about Eddie Lacy and Micah Hyde being three-down players, expectations that Datone Jones and Josh Boyd take the next step as sophomores and, most importantly, that veteran tight end Jermichael Finley is still on the Packers’ radar.

The most common belief with Finley since he went down with a neck injury early last season was that he would never play another down with the Green Bay Packers. First of all, he was in the final year of a two-year contract that many thought overpaid the highly-talented, underachieving behemoth of a man. His penchant for saying stupid things in the press and in social media had only been overshadowed by his untimely drops of Aaron Rodgers passes.

Nobody’s really sure about Jermichael Finley’s future.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

However, he seemed committed last season – given that he was playing for a huge pay day when it was all said and done. He was off to his best start and seemed like a new man – that is until he took a wicked hit on a catch over the middle against the Cleveland Browns that left him unable to move on the Lambeau Field turf last October.

Adding to the strikes against Finley was the fact that he had surgery on his neck similar to the surgery performed on Nick Collins, the Packers safety who also hurt his neck back in 2011 and hasn’t played another down.

That was until today when McCarthy told the world that Finley’s injury was different than was Collins and that if Finley is cleared by his doctor when he’s evaluated the first week of March the Packers would be very interested in bringing him back.

That announcement came in the shadow of the reports that the Packers had interviewed Eric Ebron, one of the top tight ends in the 2014 NFL Draft.

So, what does this all mean? Well, first of all, I can’t see the Packers bringing Finley back on the tight end’s terms, which makes it that much more difficult for Green Bay to re-sign him. It also means that the Packers are crossing all their T’s in talking with Ebron.

Now, if Finley is serious about his comments indicating that he would like to be a Packer for life, he would probably have to sign a contract that is either less or equal to what he was making previously with the Packers. For the Packers to give him any kind of raise, they will have to be absolutely confident in his ability to play again. I can’t see Ted Thompson going that route because we all know that there isn’t anything absolute in the NFL and the Packers have to protect the franchise. Breaking the bank for damaged goods isn’t the Packer way.

Jermichael Finley

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

What do I think will be the answer?

Well, I wish I was smart enough to have that answer.

My guess is that the Packers will make an offer to Finley – probably a pretty good offer in light of the fact that they’ve got some cap room to play with. However, I have the feeling that Finley will look for more elsewhere, even if he has the best quarterback in football throwing him passes. Whether or not Ebron is available to the Packers in the Draft, I feel the team will bring a tight end or two in – either through the draft or as an undrafted rookie.

With so much more to worry about, don’t expect the Packers to wallow in a Finley watch. They will give Finley a solid offer and bring him back if they can. If he nixes the offer, so be it.

Then it would be time to move on … an action that in my mind will probable be the final word.