Not coincidentally, that was also the day any hopes of the Green Bay Packers getting significant production from their tight ends ended.
After undergoing spinal fusion surgery in mid-November, Finley's future as a professional football player is in doubt, and so is the future of the tight end position in Green Bay.
According to Finley and his agent, they aren't giving up hope that the injured tight end will be able to play again. But in the game of roulette that is the NFL, Finley is essentially placing all his chips on one number, a long shot at best––38 to 1 odds––that he'll be able to resume his career.
Whether or not Finley is able to play again, he will be a free agent at season's end. Maybe, just maybe, some team will be willing to give him an opportunity to play again, and maybe that team will be the Packers.
Regardless of what happens, the Packers can't afford to bank on Finley's successful recovery. They must move on, because they're sure not getting anything out of current collection of tight ends.
It's not as if Finley was putting together a Pro Bowl campaign through the first six games of the season when his injury occurred. Still, finishing the year with 25 catches for exactly 300 yards and three touchdowns was no small contribution either.
Compare Finley's statistics to those of the other tight ends on the Packers roster.
Andrew Quarless has 17 receptions for 130 yards on the season, good for just 7.6 yards per catch and hasn't found the end zone a single time.
Ryan Taylor has just four receptions for 23 yards, averaging a measly 5.8 yards per catch. He too doesn't have a touchdown.
Jake Stoneburner hasn't caught a single football since being elevated from the practice squad, the coaching staff clearly not yet trusting him, having taken part in just six offensive snaps.
Only Brandon Bostick has found paydirt among the Packers other tight ends, and even he has caught only five passes since Finley's departure, but they have gone for an impressive 18.4 yards per catch covering 92 yards.
In just his first true season in the NFL, it's possible Bostick develops into the type of receiving threat the Packers hope he can be, but he also clearly has a ways to go, and even in a best-case scenario, Bostick will never be a dominating blocker.
As far as blocking goes, Quarless is the best the Packers have, but two years removed from major knee surgery, he's not the player he once was in 2011.
Quarless' grade as a run blocker ranks 45th in the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus.com, and his overall grade is no better, ranking 46th.
It's true that the entire offense has floundered with a mishmash of backup quarterbacks leading the charge, but even with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, production from the position figures to only marginally improve.
The Packers essentially have no choice but to address the position in the offseason, either in free agency or the draft. It's really only a matter of how much priority the team places on trying to upgrade at tight end.
Top-notch players likely to be available in the upcoming NFL draft include Eric Ebron of North Carolina, Jace Amaro of Texas Tech and Austin Safarian-Jenkins of Washington.
Hoping any of these three would be available in the second round or later would be a gamble, but it's still far to early to make such projections with any degree of certainty.
For a team with plenty of other needs, including but not limited to safety, it will be interesting to see how the Packers address such needs with currently only one first round draft pick available to them.
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 [email protected].
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