Throughout his seven year career, Jermichael Finley has been a huge contributor to the Green Bay Packers. In 2011, Finley helped the Packers win the Super Bowl, and much of Aaron Rodgers‘ success in his MVP season came because of Finley. In that year, the Texas native caught 55 passes for over 700 yards, and he even had eight touchdowns for an extremely high-powered offense. It will be a tough pill to swallow for Packer fans to see him walk, but there are other needs that need to be addressed.
The Texas product has made a living in the NFL as a big red zone target. He is one of the best tight ends in the league because he has soft hands and he is an impact run-blocker. The problem with Finley is that he will be coming back from a neck injury that shortened his season in 2013. In a league where offenses are evolving, it is without a doubt that a top-tier tight end will get signed in free agency.
Finley will most likely take a “prove-it” deal, meaning that he will sign with a team on a one-year deal to prove that he is healthy enough for a long-term deal. Jeremy Maclin signed a similar contract today with the Philadelphia Eagles because he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason. Teams will be weary over Finley’s health, but tight ends are at a premium in today’s NFL. Sometimes, the risk is worth the reward. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Finley sign a two-year, $6 million contract with a team.
Looking ahead to the NFL Draft, the Packers could very well add another weapon to their offense in Jace Amaro. Like I said earlier, Green Bay has a ton of holes across the team. Their main focus in the draft should be to address the secondary. Cornerback Sam Shields may not get re-signed by the Packers. If he doesn’t get re-signed, there will be a big hole at the cornerback position opposite of Tramon Williams.
If the Packers elect to go the Amaro route, they will be getting a player that is coming off an unbelievable year at Texas Tech. The tight end caught more than 100 passes for more than 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers are crazy from a tight end in college. If Finley is not re-signed, it is up to Ted Thompson and co. to find their future tight end. Andrew Quarless could be in line for the job, but he is also a free agent. The Packers could also wait until later in the draft to get a prospect like Joe Don Duncan or even C.J. Fiedorowicz.
With a ton of players needing to be re-signed, the Packers can’t afford to keep Finley. Tight ends in this league are easier to replace than cornerbacks and defensive tackles. The Packers need to focus on signing Shields and B.J. Raji. Retooling the defense and improving the offensive line are two things that the Packers need to improve. With the NFL making the salary cap bigger, the Packers will have a little more space to sign some players that could come in and contribute right away.