New England Patriots Should Take A Chance On Free Agent TE Jermichael Finley

By Will Gellman
Jermichael Finley Packers
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The New England Patriots have made several noteworthy moves as of late, from acquiring Ben Bass and Jerel Worthy, to the releases of Justin Jones and Asa Watson. That said, the Pats should not be finished with making moves just yet. There is one very productive player who should still be on their wish list: TE Jermichael Finley.

As NFL fans know by now, Finley was among the best tight ends in football until a serious neck injury sidelined him last season. He had surgery in March to fuse together two vertebrae as a result. It sounds very bad, and it is, but there is some good news. He was fully cleared to resume his football career in May by Pittsburgh Steelers neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon.

Given that fact, teams around the league shouldn’t be afraid to take a chance on him. He is only 27 years old, so it’s not unthinkable that he could already have made a full recovery by now.

As we have seen with Peyton Manning, neck fusion surgery is not the career death sentence it appears to be for a football player. Finley certainly seems willing to return to the field, as he has said he wants to play football again; he should be allowed to make that call, especially given medical clearance. He was a dynamic threat who could gain yards after the catch and make circus catches that most TEs couldn’t. According to his trainer Bill Welle, Finley has looked game-ready since he got cleared.

The Patriots have lacked a receiving TE to pair with Rob Gronkowski since Aaron Hernandez, and they just cut ties with rookies Asa Watson and Justin Jones. Adding a healthy Finley would bring an added dimension to the team’s passing game.

If money is an issue for Finley or the Patriots, there is a solution to that as well. The Pats could very easily offer him a high base salary plus incentives. The deal would not include much, if any guaranteed money if he were to get hurt or underperform, and would simply allow him to prove he can still play in the league. If he were to succeed, he would collect a lot of money, possibly earn a ring and receive future contracts. If he doesn’t, the Patriots wouldn’t be on the hook for very much money.

Either way, the Patriots should offer Finley a contract and see if he bites now that the TE position is a question mark. He may not, but at least they can say they tried.

Will Gellman is a New England Patriots writer for  Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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