With their 37-20 loss at the hands of the Super bowl bound New York Giants, the Green Bay Packers have ushered in the 2012 NFL off-season. Amongst many decisions that general manager Ted Thompson must make, one sticks out to me as nearly unpredictable and very important. That decision is what to do with tight end Jermichael Finley, now a free agent.
Finley is undoubtedly a talented tight end. His track record proves this (55 catches 767 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2011) but it also proves that up to date, he makes many crucial mistakes that have done nothing to put faith in his stock. This manifest can be clearly seen in his dropping an average of one pass a game during the season. So what’s the issue some may ask. The issue is that Finley may be in line (or at least looking) for a large pay day. What is Green Bay to do? If you don’t sign him, he may go and turn into an extraordinary player for another franchise. If you pay him, you run the risk of him never reaching his full potential thus wasting money that could be used to keep talent on the other side of the ball. My opinion: If the price is too high, get rid of him.
Is Finley talented? Yes. Can he become more dependable? Probably. Is it worth chancing? No. If Green Bay was coming off a season where the offense struggled and the defense was the carrying force, I would say beyond a shadow of a doubt hold on to him. This however, is not the case. The Packer defense is struggling and the offense is full of weapons for Aaron Rodgers to use whilst he pillages other team’s end zones. If the Packers get rid of Finley, they will not only open up money to potentially bring in free agents and sign current defenders (such as B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews who both have two years remaining on their rookie contracts and are in for large pay days themselves) but also to get draft picks that could help them find players to improve the current defensive problems. If Green Bay uses the franchise tag (a defacto one year contract worth the average salary of the position the player plays) on Finley, they will be signed to pay him approximately $5.5 million next season. They also will have the opportunity to trade him regardless of his opinion on the matter. If Finley can be signed for a reasonable price ($6 million a year or less) I say keep him, but if the price exceeds reason we will be far better off without him.