The Green Bay Packers will have to make a decision before March 27 about their tight end Jermichael Finley. Should the Packers release their once promising star or keep Finley in hopes of him turning his recent struggles around?
Finley is due a $3 million roster bonus on March 27 and that is simply something Green Bay might not be able to live with. If they cut him, they will save $8.25 million this season and considering the organization already cut ties with legend Charles Woodson to save approximately $10 million it could be closing time for Finley. To add to the dilemma, if the team asks him to take a pay cut to stay with the organization Finley stated he would walk immediately.
“I’d have to walk for sure, meaning I couldn’t take a pay cut,” Finley said. “Maybe I’d restructure if it’s a deal that I like and it makes sense, but I’m not the guy that’s just going to sign anything and let anything pass.
“I’m not that guy. Other than that, taking a pay cut or restructuring doesn’t sound good to me at this time. I like my deal. I start training in Minneapolis [on Thursday] and I’m more inspired than ever to start next season off right and be the tight end I know I can be. It’s all business at the end of the day. I just love what I do.”
Saving money is great, but it may not be wise for the Packers to release Finley in the same season they are losing other receivers. The chances of re-signing wide receiver Greg Jennings are slim to none, which means Green Bay must keep as many offensive weapons for Aaron Rodgers as possible. Losing Finley would not be the end of the world because the team has proven they can win without him, such as their magical Super Bowl run in 2010. Not to mention, he has not been very productive in recent years and has dropped his fair share of balls.
However, the NFL is quickly becoming a tight end league and the Packers are getting zero production out of the position. There is reason to believe Finley can have a breakout season considering the potential he has shown in the past. The only problem with that is if Green Bay is willing to wait around and find out if he can reel it in. One thing is for certain, the Packers desperately need a tight end that can make plays each and every game, and Finley is someone who has not done that for them.
In 16 games last season, the 25-year-old hauled in 61 receptions for 667 yards and two touchdowns. Catching 69.3 percent of his passes is certainly an improvement from 2011 when he caught a measly 59.1 percent of the passes thrown his way, but it is still not ideal.
If Green Bay believes they can get a more reliable tight end in the draft or pick someone up in free agency who is not asking for as much money, then they clearly need to do it. I think Finley is a great football player who has the chance to be phenomenal one day if he can ever learn to get his head in the game. However, the Packers do not have time to waste money and sit around hoping he is going to turn into the player everyone knows he is capable of being. Obviously, the organization needs to get some money together to sign Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji and Rodgers, but I am just not sure releasing Finley is the right move to do so this off-season.