The Green Bay Packers would be foolish to release or trade tight Jermichael Finley after the 2012 NFL season despite several reports suggesting that is exactly what the team intends to do before March of next year.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that the Packers have every intention to release Finley before next season if they are unable to find a team that would be willing to work out a trade. Finley is owed $7 million in 2013 as part of the two-year, $14 million contract he signed this past February.
McGinn reports that sources close to the Packers’ brass “say the club not only wants to get rid of Finley but has decided to do exactly that in the offseason.”
It is certainly understandable why members of the organization, as well as, the loyal fan base want to see Finley leave town. Many regard the 25-year-old as a parasite due to his big mouth that constantly puts the team in difficult positions. The Packers are known as a classy organization that does not tolerate hazing of the rookies during training camp, showboating on the field or trash talking in the media. Finley is responsible for two out of the three this season alone.
Not to mention, Finley discouraged fans and infuriated the Packers when his agent Blake Baratz tweeted Rodgers “isn’t a great leader.” The fifth year player has claimed repeatedly that he had nothing to do with his agent’s tweet. However, it is something that has gone unforgiving inside the organization.
Finley is the sixth highest paid tight end in the league but his production on the field this season does not match that level. He has not given the same results since he got injured against the Washington Redskins in 2010 and was forced to sit out the rest of the season.
Finley may have had career numbers last year in yards (767), touchdowns (8) and receptions, but that is because he was targeted 93 times in which he only caught 55 passes. Finley believes he deserves to get the ball more because he is the top playmaker on one of the most gifted offenses in the NFL. The only problem is he has dropped 19 passes in the past year and a half, which is the most by any tight end over that span.
On the other hand, when Finley gets involved in the game he is very destructive to opposing defenses and certainly has the capability to take the contest over. People may feel like Finley is not getting the necessary chances but he already has 71 targets through the first 14 weeks of the season. Unfortunately, he has only hauled in 48 receptions, which is the main problem that Finley himself has yet to address.
However, to say that the Packers are not even willing to look his way is simply not true. In Green Bay’s 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon, Finley was targeted six times, in which he caught five receptions for 61 yards. The media can talk about how the coaches and the team are no longer interested in the way he goes about himself, but there is no question he is still a valuable member of the offense. There is a reason why he is still in the lineup and still getting looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers’ offense is one in which Rodgers throws to whoever is open because every playmaker is capable of racking up positive yardage and scoring touchdowns. Randall Cobb has seen more targets this season because he has stayed healthy and has proven to Rodgers that he can not only catch the football but also able to do something with it afterwards. Other than that, everyone sees about the same amount of targets and must do the most with their opportunities.
If the Packers want to be successful, they must get Finley involved. I understand it is difficult to have a player who goes half speed when he does not get a look from his quarterback, but the flip side is he is still a serious threat on the field. To talk about releasing or trading Finley after this year may be a tactical ploy by Green Bay to get their physically gifted tight end to play better, but hopefully that is all it is. If there is any seriousness to the possibility then it should be squashed instantly.
The upside to getting rid of Finley is to spend the $7 million on possibly re-signing Greg Jennings or put it towards Rodgers’ monster contract that he will be signing shortly. Also, Finley is a terrible run blocker and he has shown no interest in getting better in that department. However, the Packers should not use him in those situations and rather spread him out wide so he can make plays in the open field and stack up yards after the catch.
Make no mistake about it Finley will be a beast in the postseason. Defenses will have a very difficult time stopping Green Bay’s offense as long as the offensive line can give Rodgers the necessary protection in order for him to make plays. There will be mismatches all across the board and that is when Finley will shine brightest.
All Finley has to do is keep his mouth shut, catch the football and continue to have a “great relationship” with Rodgers.
“You’re going to get unhappy at times, but that’s in the scheme of things — it happens,” Finley said. “At the end of the day, [Rodgers and I] are teammates and best friends, so that squashes everything.”
The Packers are primed for greatness once again and even though they won Super Bowl XLV with Finley on the sidelines, there is no doubt they will need his help this season if they want to win it all.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.