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Assessing the Chances of Finley, Jolly, Pickett Returning to Green Bay

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Assessing the Chances of Finley, Jolly, Pickett Returning to Green Bay

Once the Green Bay Packers signed three players taking part in tryouts earlier this this week, they filled their entire 90-man offseason roster.

That doesn't mean they're bound to those 90 players from now until training camp, but for anyone the Packers want to sign from here on out, they'll have to release at least one corresponding player.

Three players on the outside of the Packers roster looking in are tight end Jermichael Finley and defensive linemen Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett, all of whom have been bound to the Packers organization to one extent or another for at least the last six seasons.

Neither general manager Ted Thompson nor head coach Mike McCarthy has ruled out any of those players returning to Green Bay in 2014, but there are obvious reservations about each of them.

The following is a look at each individual player and what stands in the way of them returning to Green Bay:

 

Tight End Jermichael Finley

Whereas the Packers have given away the lockers formerly belonging to both Jolly and Pickett, Finley's is reportedly still there, open and empty, perhaps leaving open the opportunity to return.

McCarthy has been very outspoken on Finley, going as far as to say "In my mind, he is a Green Bay Packer" as recently as last week.

Clearly the Packers, nor any other NFL team, are not yet comfortable in clearing Finley from the very serious neck injury and subsequent spinal-fusion surgery that took place last November.

Certainly, it would benefit Finley to take part in the team's offseason program as opposed to not taking part, but it's more important that he's fully healthy first.

As someone that would be entering his seventh season in the NFL, there's little the Packers don't already know about Finley's as a football player, and there would be little noticeable difference in him potentially signing at the beginning of training camp compared to right now in May.

Finley has never been the type of player that has been prone to getting out of shape, so the Packers have little to worry about from that perspective.

According to comments from Finley and his agent, the tight end wants to return to football. But by taking out a $10 million disability insurance policy, Finley has to seriously consider the alternative.

There's little chance that any team will be willing to pay Finley guaranteed multi-millions of dollars immediately coming off such a serious injury, and he very likely faces a prove-it type of season should he return, whereby he'll get a short-term, low-dollar contract before anybody will be wiling to committ to more years and more money.

The Packers also will likely will want to wait until nearly training camp or later before seriously assessing Finley's health in order to give him as much time possible to recover. If and when he's cleared, the Packers will probably give serious consideration to re-signing him, but that is no guarantee.

 

Defensive Lineman Johnny Jolly

Jolly is in much the same boat as Finley, coming off a neck injury and surgery that must be treated delicately.

Fortunately for Jolly, his injury occurred lower on the spine than Finley, which typically makes it safer to return to a high-impact sport like football.

Still, like Finley, the Packers want to give Jolly more time to recover before making any decision.

It doesn't bode well that the Packers gave Jolly's No. 97 jersey to new signee Luther Robinson, but that in itself wouldn't necessarily prevent the team from re-signing Jolly.

Given Jolly's legal troubles in the past and the fact that no longer on the sunny side of 30, it could be a case where he returns to the Packers organization or not at all, seeing as another team may not be as comfortable in signing him.

And again, like Finley, the Packers probably won't be willing to sign Jolly until training camp at the earliest.

Assuming they sign Jolly, there's one avenue open to the Packers that would allow them to both bring him back slowly from injury and also provide depth on the defensive line, and that's placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

As long Jolly doesn't take part in practice and strictly does rehab and strength and conditioning work, he could conceivably come off the PUP list anywhere between Week 6 and Week 15 of the regular season.

 

Defensive Lineman Ryan Pickett

It's been quite the fall from grace for Ryan Pickett since the last time he was a free agent in 2010 and had the franchise tag placed on him.

Four years later, at 34 years old and 340 lbs., no team has yet been willing to sign him as a free agent. And unlike Finley and Jolly, Pickett is actually healthy.

One thing limiting Pickett's value is that he's not a pass rusher—never has been and never will be. But he's not without his worth.

Pickett is a reliable run stuffer, a big body that knows his role, always gives an honest effort and can be a mentor to younger players on the team.

After Pickett's No. 79 jersey was also given away, one could assume the Packers might be wanting to move on, and the more time that passes, the more that seems to be the case.

There's the possibility that Pickett could be one of those mid-season injury replacement, emergency type of signings, but at some point, Pickett will have to seriously consider retirement as opposed to staying in shape just in case of a call that may or may not ever come.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

L's picture

I do think that there's a decent amount of potential for J.Jolly to get signed to a 1 year vets minimum deal and then placed on the PUP list.

R.Pickett will probably be an emergency call guy if injuries devastate the D-line.

I'm just not sold on the Packers resigning J.Finley after his injury; regardless, to him getting clearance. I don't think the team is willing to risk him getting re-injured; they know that he'll be playing at a greater risk of suffering a detrimental one than other players who have suffered neck injuries such as J.Jolly and S.Richardson.

Anyways, this is just my gut feeling on the matter.

HankScorpio's picture

There is no way, no how that Jolly gets signed and placed on the PUP. I'm not even sure that CBA and/or league rules allow that.

Either way, if he's not cleared for contact, he won't be signed. If he is cleared for contact, he can't be placed on the PUP.

L's picture

Any signing of J.Jolly would of course come after he's been cleared for contact, but I'm guessing that they'd bring him along slowly and quite possibly under the preseason PUP list initially. I imagine that as the roster narrows down he may be one of those players where the team can either transition him from the preseason PUP to the regular season PUP list depending on the health of other valuable players or simply cut him because they like what they've seen from all the other younger DL players or they try trading him if he's actually been able to see some game action in the preseason (where hopefully he's shown that he's well enough but not significantly better than any of the other younger players).

Again, this is just a gut feeling about how the team may strategize their reasoning behind making his return to the team a reality which of course would also have to go hand-in-hand with the releasing of some other player on the 90-man roster.

It's also entirely possible that J.Jolly simply remains one of the guys the Packers can turn to during the season as a street free agent if injuries decimated the DL during the season (knock on wood that it doesn't occur); similar to what they'd have in R.Pickett if he remains available.

Tarynfor12's picture

I have never been a big Finley fan and was opposed to the $16 mill contract TT gave him. I wish him all the luck and a full recovery,however,we don't need the risk of a re-injury,we don't need to make again excuses for his lapses on the field,and we once again shown the team can win without him,even if not to the extent as in 10' but had Rodgers not been lost,the defense may have done better as a whole and perhaps a tad further in the playoffs last season...Lets just move forward from Finley with best wishes.

Brutus10's picture

Truest statement so far of the off-season.

4thand1's picture

Finley is in a no win situation. No team will pay him much. He'd lose 10 mil just by strapping on a helmet. Take the money and ride off into the sunset. Smart move by buying that policy, I don't see him playing again.

MarkinMadison's picture

I'd be curious to know the terms of the policy. It might not be an all-or-nothing situation. The fact that he keeps trying makes me wonder.

Stroh's picture

Its a policy in case of career ending injury. Basically if he plays the insurance won't pay him a cent. I don't think its based on his salary if he does play or anything like that. If his career is ended by injury he gets the 10M, if he can or does play again the insurance doesn't pay. I don't think its too complicated unless he's cleared to play and choses not to, in which case we would have to see the language of the insurance policy.

MarkinMadison's picture

I understand what it is, I'd like to know if anyone has analyzed the exact language to see what he can and cannot do while maintaining eligibility for payment. Maybe he can earn $2M and get paid $8M. Maybe he can practice, but not play in a game. Maybe he can't even sign a contract at all. These are variables that I don't know without reading the policy or hearing from someone who has.

Brutus10's picture

Any links ???

Come on, Stroh. You don't know so why guess.
Everyone here is capable of searching the topic.

Guess what? ---- No one knows except Finley & the insurance company.

Stroh's picture

Go away But,cuz you don't know squat either. Its not too hard to figure out if you have half a brain and a basic knowledge of insurance policies. Is that too far over your head?

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

4thand1, I agree with everything you have said. You know I was No Finley fan. I wanted to trade him & Hawk 3 years ago. I've changed my mind on Finley, if he gets to 100%. He showed me he could catch a ball last year. I'm willing to give him another year or 2, if for no other reason, that Healthy, he is the Best we have. Can't believe I said that, but that's how I feel. I think MM feels that way as well. It all hinges on his health. If he can get cleared, without the probability of getting Re-injured, I think he's worth keeping around, until we find someone better. Right now, I don't think we have that person. JMO

4thand1's picture

Well he tested the market and no one came calling. I don't think he'll be insured to play, and if not, he can't. He was playing great at the time of his injury though and the middle of the field was taken away from GB. I think his injury was 3rd behind CM and Rodgers. man we lost the play makers last year. Look out this year.

lucky953's picture

Finley is strictly medical; they know he can play, and he's not going to make $10M. With Jolly, due to injury and age, it'll be more about who else pans out, e.g. Worthy, Guion, Thornton, Robinson. They won't invest in Jolly unless he's clearly better than those guys. Young and healthy trumps old and hurt. Obviously they are looking for a younger guy(s) to replace Pickett as run stuffers. They need more lateral speed.

HankScorpio's picture

The fact that the Packers gave away the locker and jersey #s of both Jolly and Pickett speaks volumes about their plans with those two, IMO.

Evan's picture

I think that's less telling than the fact that they still have Finley's up. That, to me, is very curious.

4thand1's picture

Maybe he super glued his name to his locker and they can't get it off.

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