The New England Patriots should seriously consider signing free agent tight end Jermichael Finley. Not only would he bolster a thin depth chart at the tight end position, but the former Green Bay Packers standout would also add talent to an underachieving receiving corps.
In six NFL seasons, Finley has displayed athleticism, dependable hands and playmaking ability. His 2013 season was cut short because of a neck injury, but he has put up three seasons of at least 55 receptions. Finley has all the tools to be a true receiving threat; he just needs to find a suitable home.
Many teams, including the Packers, are hesitant to sign Finley because of the scary neck injury he sustained last season against the Cleveland Browns. However, Finley’s personal doctor has given him the green light to play in 2014. Legitimate medical clearance by a professional in the field should be enough to reassure the Patriots, at least, if no one else.
With Rob Gronkowski’s health seemingly always in doubt, the Patriots have a big hole in their roster at tight end. While they have invested in youth by signing undrafted free agent Asa Watson, there is still a question mark at the position, so Finley would be a huge boost. Finley has the size to be an asset in the red zone, a place where the Patriots rely way too much on diminutive receivers finding room in tight spaces. Additionally, Finley can stretch the field by taking advantage of matchups with slower linebackers.
Let’s address the elephant in the room here: Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots haven’t had an explosive force at tight end besides Gronkowski since the Hernandez debacle—what better way to put the scandal fully behind them than by finding a replacement? As tantalizing as Matthew Mulligan’s numbers were in 2013 (two receptions, 16 yards, one touchdown), Finley is a much more attractive option to pair up with Gronkowski.
The Patriots made some splashes this offseason on the defensive side of the ball. It’s time to give the offense their fair share of attention as well. The Pats need to nab Finley before a team like the Seattle Seahawks or Oakland Raiders make a sweeter deal.