The Packers owe veteran tight end Jermichael Finley a hefty roster bonus in March
Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel opined that Jermichael Finley would not return in 2013 “barring a shocking turn of events in the next month or so.” Well, if one of the country’s most respected football writers was correct in December, then the enigmatic tight end will no longer be a Packer by the middle of March.
Truth be told, there was no shocking turn of events when it came to Finley in the final few months of the season. The 25-year-old simply looked like a guy who suddenly realized that he was on the verge of blowing millions of dollars. So he kept his mouth shut and caught 31 passes in the final 7 games. Good for him, but would that classify as a shocking turn of events? More importantly, is that worth $8 million?
When I re-watched those 7 games, I saw better effort out of Finley, but I also saw a player who really struggled to block and who really struggled to separate from very ordinary safeties and linebackers. The majority of his 31 receptions came in the flat, and many were uncontested. Rarely did Finley make a play down the field. To be fair, Aaron Rodgers missed him a number of times, but that happens to all receivers.
Finley supporters argue that his numbers will never be eye-popping because he has to share the ball with so many other quality receivers. There’s some truth to that, but it’s not all about numbers when it comes to the former Texas star. It’s about making the most of opportunities – something he didn’t do nearly enough in 2012. His Ed West-like yards per catch average (10.9) and measly 2 TDs would attest to that.
So what will happen between now and the middle of March, when Finley is due a $3.5 million roster bonus? Probably nothing. With star wide receiver Greg Jennings on his way out of town, it’s difficult to imagine GM Ted Thompson allowing another weapon – albeit more a pop gun than a cannon – to leave as well.
And if Finley does return for another season, it won’t be due to a shocking turn of events. It’ll be due to his improved performance, his improved attitude, and most importantly, his good fortune to be playing for a team that will be losing its best wide receiver in a few months and has no decent backup plan at tight end.