Vandermause, in a post entitled "Packers have no choice but to re-sign Finley" writes:
Packers tight end Jermichael Finley talks a good game, as my latest column points out, but he also backs it up on the field. He has the potential to become one of the best tight ends in the NFL, if not the best.
Can there even be a question that the Packers should attempt to give Finley, who will become an unrestricted free agent following this season, a new contract?
Yes, the Packers won a Super Bowl without Finley, who was lost for the season in Week 5 last October. But General Manager Ted Thompson and McCarthy talk all the time about the constant need for improvement. Adding the Finley piece to the Packers’ offense for years to come has the potential to make this team dynamic and cause nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.
Bottom line, the Packers need to lock up Finley long term, the sooner the better.
Yes, Jermichael Finley is a unique talent. I've been on-board the Finley bandwagon from the start - hell, I'm pretty sure I was driving it at one point.
But the Packers have absolutely no reason to overpay for Finley's services. As Mike points out, the Packers did indeed win a Super Bowl with Finley sidelined for the majority of the year. The offense caught fire toward the end of the 2010 season (those pesky Bears games aside...) and could serve as a preview of life-after-Finley. General Manager Ted Thompson has also stockpiled the tight end position with an abundance of talent for head coach Mike McCarthy to develop not only in 2011 but for the years to come. With continued development, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams and the rest of the tight end contingent could one day more than make up for the loss of production losing Finley would bring about.
That's not to say the Packers should not try to keep Finley in the fold. They currently sit $10.757 million below their adjusted cap of $121.935 million. That cap space is there specifically for re-signings for guys like Finley, Josh Sitton, Jordy Nelson, etc.
Thompson will not doubt enter into talks with Finley's camp at some point this season and I don't doubt Finley's agent will be using the contract Chargers tight end Antonio Gates signed last year as a jumping off point. Gates signed a six-year, $39.8 million contract. The deal contained $20.4 million guaranteed, including a $4.575 million signing bonus and a $3.47 million first-year "option" bonus.
Next , the two parties will no doubt look at the deal signed last September by 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. Davis signed a six-year, $42.705 million contract. That deal contained $23 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus.
Finally, there's the deal signed just a few days ago by Jaguars tight end Mercedes Lewis, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract. That deal contained $17 million guaranteed.
Now, Mercedes Lewis is a fine player. But he's nowhere near Jermichael Finley's zip code as far as what he brings to the table as an NFL tight end. Gates and Davis reside in the same neighborhood and both got around $20 million guaranteed. Is Finley worth that? Absolutely. Is he worth that to the Packers? It's debatable.
Think about this: the deal Aaron Rodgers signed in 2008 contained $20 million in guaranteed money. You're telling me the Packers are going to give the same amount, possibly even more, up front to a player who, while immensely talented, wasn't even needed on the field for most of their Super Bowl run?
No, the Packers should do what they always do. Make Finley a Packer-friendly offer and if he or his agent balk, thank him for his time and wish him well while telling him the door is always open should he reconsider while testing the free agent waters.
Obviously, a lot must play out before any of this becomes a real issue. Games must be played, development from guys like Quarless and Williams must be shown and, above all, Finley must stay healthy and on the field. But when the time comes to talk, the Packers absolutely, positively should not overpay for Finley's services. He is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but he is not irreplaceable on a deep and talented Packers roster.
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