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Packers Shouldn't Overpay For Finley

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Packers Shouldn't Overpay For Finley

With Jermichael Finley making headlines, I thought this misguided post from Mike Vandermause deserved some pushback.

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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (35) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

adzke's picture

This will be 100 % on Finley. If he wants a big contract and a shot at the Super Bowl the next five to seven years, he will sign with the Packers.

If he just wants a huge contract, he will sign somewhere else.

If Finley comes back it will be on the terms the Pack sets out. Otherwise... next man up.

Andyman's picture

Exactly what my thinking as been. If he really wants to play here, he will take the Packer-friendly contract and be a machine for us.

Ceallaigh's picture

To me Finley is still all talk no proof. His mouth and sense of self still outstrips his abilities. We always talk about paper championships, great on paper, unproven on the field. For me, Finely is at this stage. While I don't doubt his abilities, he has yet to prove that he is that player. He is fabulous tight end, but as others has said, he wasn't absolutely necessary to make a champion.

Rodgers on the other hand, has earned that money and trust of the organization through is on-field performance and loyalty. Right now, the Packers don't have much more than a promise of a YOTTO, whatever that truly means and a bunch of grandstanding on twitter.

Now I'll be the first to agree that if Finley proves he can be that player he imagines to be and has an outstanding first 2/3 of this season that the Packers should add his contract to their list of priorities along side Sitton (who in my opinion is an absolute priority.)Until then, I he still has to prove he's worth more than the veteran's minimum.

Yope's picture

I like this article, agree totally, Finley is great, but only as great as Aaron Rodgers. Give him an offer, but if he wants to test the FA waters so be it.

Chazman's picture

Reading Vandermause's article made me wonder if he was auditioning to become Finley's next agent. There's a couple of things for me that are concerns about Finley.
The main one is can he stay healthy for a full season? He's not worth the dough if he ain't gonna show.
Another is the dependency that Rodgers seemed to have on Finley early on last season. There are so many weapons on the offensive side of the ball that to focus in on one player is limiting your offense and once he was lost for the season, our offense was lost as well for a time. I understand that part of that is on McCarthy's schemes and Rodgers decision-making but it does make me leery.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to keep Finley, he is an incredible talent, but I don't see his personality letting him stay in Green Bay if the lights of the "Big City" come a-calling.

Bearmeat's picture

Vanderdummy has sucked for years. Lazy, stupid journalism. The amazing this is that he gets paid - and finer work goes on in the Packer Blogosphere...

jeremy's picture

"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."

The Packers can offer Finley one thing others can not, Financial Security Right Now. It worked for Jennings, Rodgers, Collins, Williams, and Bishop because career ending injuries happen in the NFL. Hopefully it will also lock up Raji, Sitton, Finley, etc. In my opinion, Matthews is the only one this post wouldn't apply to. They absolutely can not loose him.

davyjones's picture

Can someone tell me Finley's actual number of career starts? I could be wrong, but I count 16 reg season starts plus one post season start. Is that enough to put him in the same conversation with Gates? His talent is proven, but 16 starts in 3 full seasons ought to make Ted cautious.

MarkinMadison's picture

I couldn't agree more with this article. I disagree with Jeremy slightly. I think that Raji will prove to be just as important as Matthews, and is probably more difficult to replace. Both need to be locked up long-term. The 2009 draft will probably go down as TT's signature draft for nabbing both Raji and Matthews.

Mr. Red's picture

It's not that I disagree with the article, but the title is a clever bit of sophistry.

"Packers shouldn't overpay for Finley"

Who's going to disagree with that? Who's going to say, I think we should WILDLY overpay for Finley.

They should pay him what he's worth. It he proves himself an elite tight end, or the best in the game, they should pay him as such.

But reading the tone and comments of many of the articles about Finley, I don't know why so many seem blase about keeping around what could potentially be a once-in-a-generation player.

And talk about him being a primadonna and a "bad guy" is ridiculous (not from this article, or this site, but extrapolating from others I've read). He's a cocky and brash young athlete. But he's not a trouble-maker, seems to be well-liked in the lockerroom.

I, for one, embrace the comments he made about the Eagles and Saints. So long as they stay hungry, the team needs to have a little swagger.

You can't have 53 Tauscher's in the locker room. You need a guy with a personality like Jermichael Finley. And we're just blessed that his personality happens to be attached to a body with talent and a gamechanging physique.

packeraaron's picture

"Who’s going to say, I think we should WILDLY overpay for Finley."

Let me introduce you to my Twitter followers...

MarkinMadison's picture

So here's the harder question - if he's healthy and productive, and the market says $7M, do they pay him $7M? I think that you're saying, "no," and I know I'm saying, "not if that means jeopardizing Sitton this year, or Matthews or Raji down the road." Nelson is debateable. He brings a height dimension to the WR position, but Finley could be used in that way too. So Nelson v. Finley is a tough call. So is $7M too much?

CSS's picture

Sad part is, the teams most likely to drive up the bidding in an open market for a guy like Finley will be teams looking for a superior option for what's likely to be an average quarterback. There's only a handful of QB's and systems that would really use him to stretch the field.

Finley would get sooooooo frustrated if he simply chases the money down the road.

lebowski's picture

Sitton. Get him locked up now. It's taken what seems like a decade to bring our O-line back to respectability, please don't start losing those parts. Success starts in the trenches.

hyperRevue's picture

I love Finley as much as anyone and am beyond excited to see him reach his potential, but am I crazy in thinking that the offense was struggling early in the season last year because Rodgers was trying to force him the ball too much?

Nerdmann's picture

Agreed.

ibleedgrnngold's picture

Finley will be signed over the bye week if he's healthy. markt. it. down.

Our offense was very good last year without him, no doubting that. He is the special cog in the machine that moves it from good to great.

Jersey Al's picture

Well done, but I don't interpret the article as saying the Packers should overpay. More like he is saying the Packers should make a strong effort to sign him. I think it's mostly a poorly worded title. But I agree 100% with your opinion on what should and will happen.

CSS's picture

Well, roughly 13% of the total annual cap space will be dedicated to one of the deepest receiving cores in the NFL among Jennings, Nelson, Driver, Jones and Cobb. 5 guys.

Finley's potential market value could easily draw 6%-7% of the cap. Kind of crazy when you think about it in that respect.

He's a mismatch, he's a talent. That being said, in an all-pro year he's going to get maybe 35% of the targets.

Just saying, that's a lot of cap for a guy that's going to get that many targets in a philosophy that thrives on spreading the field and the ball.

Russ Ball, in retrospect, did an amazing job with that receiving core. That's little money for that deep of a group. What to do with Finley?

PkrNboro's picture

(How about this, for a total "Devil's Advocate" position !)

None of the big-money tightends referenced in the column has won a championship -- perhaps a blue-print on how not to create a SB team?

I think the Packers should (secretly) encourage Finley to leave.

Just think: whatever team that gets him will have mortgaged their future. The money and cap implications will effectively eliminate that team from Super Bowl contention. One team down; thirty-one to go.

More of TT's brilliance: create these awesome players and enjoy them for their first contract, then let them become monetary, contractual, team-busting bombs for other organizations.

The Packers can roll out not one, but two, platoons of "Big 5". Will a TD or first-down by a UDFA be of any lesser value to the Packers, as opposed to the big-bucks/catch of the future Mr. Finley ?

NoWayJose's picture

Trying to thing of the last time an "elite" TE helped a team win the SB. I would say it was Dallas Clark in the Colts-Bears SB - and I think he is pretty borderline as far as elite goes.

Before that, I think you have to go back to Shannon Sharpe for the Broncos.

Finley is amazing, but its not like he plays the most essential position on the field.

ibleedgrnngold's picture

Both of you have good points, but whens the last time an elite TE has been on a superbowl caliber team? The chargers are flawed, the chiefs were when Tony G was good, etc. He is not making or breaking the offense, by any means, but without and with him its like a corvette vs a ferrari.

packeraaron's picture

The Chargers had the number one offense and the number one defense last year. Their flaw, and it was a major one, was on special teams. Finley has Gates-like talent. The biggest difference is Gates has been able to play through most of his injuries while Finley's have sidelined him.

PackersRS's picture

All of this by yards. By PPG, their defense was average (#10, 20.1 PPG, 5 PPG worse than us). Couple that with, yes, a horrible, horrible ST unit, and it explains.

Still, the only reason they were able to achieve those rankings in O and D is due to a terrible, terrible division, making for a terrible schedule.

But, yeah, they're a good team. Just not great.

packeraaron's picture

Ranking 10th out of 32 teams is "average"?

I understand what you're saying (and this argument is totally off topic) but I would contend their schedule was no easier than what the Patriots faced, who entered the season with the easiest strength-of-schedule in the history of the NFL. Do we attribute their 14-2 record simply to a "terrible schedule"? Of course not.

PackersRS's picture

The Patriots' defense was bad, being 30th against passing yardage and 13th in QB rating.

And I've never said the Patriots were great. In fact, if you go back to the time we played them, I've said that, even with Flynn at the helm, there was no way the Patriots were going to win by more than a TD.

I completely agree that they had an easy schedule, and that they're overrated. So are the Chargers.

And, yes, you understood that by "bad" or "average" I'm talking about the elite teams, not the bottom feeders.

Ruppert's picture

Let's also not forget that Finley himself once said his goal was to be the highest paid TE in the league. THAT ain't happenin' in Green Bay.

It's almost unfair to refer to him a a veteran, given his age and few number of games actually played. I'd love to see him back. The question, to me, is whether his eventual signing team will end up giving him a contract similar to Gates and Gonzalez given his injury history. If that's what it takes, I don't see him coming back.

If his injury history takes his value down far enough, then I think the Packers will do it. Sadly, I'm leaning right now towards the thought that he will be gone. Hope I'm wrong.

Nerdmann's picture

If TT didn't kiss Brett Favre's ass he's certainly not going to kiss Finley's.

hyperRevue's picture

While TT will kiss no one's ass, Finley is one of Ted's guys. Brett wasn't.

Ted has a long track record of taking care of his guys.

Ian's picture

With the amount of in-line blocking Finley does, he's more of a WR than a TE anyway. I'd like to see him at least hold his own in the run game before GB throws the bank at him.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Never gonna see that, just not his game. And coming in fifteen lbs lighter isn't gonna help.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

You make him an offer that will put him in the top five of tight ends, if he bites... Awesome, if he balks let him get his huge contract and rot in washington. I think this will tell us a ton about what is important to the guy, be swimming in benjies on a perennial contender or for a couple extra million risk never sniffing a title.

GBP 4 LIFE

BCarver_78's picture

I think the new cap rules and market will help that packers sign him. All this off season we saw players go on the cheap because of the new cap rules I don’t think any team can put 10-12% (with a signing bounus)of cap a season in a tight end. The Davis deal was in an uncapped year but this all might be wishful thinking hoping he returns

Nononsense's picture

Rodgers got his contract before he really earned it and spent 2 of his first three seasons on IR.

Not saying that because I think they should do the same with Finley just stating a fact.

The numbers don't lie, add up his stats for the 16 plus one playoff game starts and you will see he is capable of putting up big numbers on a regular basis.

I agree that we shouldn't overpay because TT really doesn't for anyone but if he can stay healthy all season and put together a near 1000 yrd season than TT should offer him a fair contract as a top 5 TE, somewhere in the range of 5-6 million a year.

That or use the franchise tag on him next season and see how he reacts to that. If he throws a fit, trade his ass or rescind the tag if they feel they don't need him at that price.

CSS's picture

They had 3 years of coaches film when Rodgers was running the scout squad against the number 1 defense, and blowing it up. Thompson and company only needed 2/3rd's of his first season to confirm what they already knew about Rodgers, big difference.

Finley flashes and teases greatness. He's the definition of risk vs. reward.

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