On Monday, Finley made it known he wants to “retire a Green Bay Packer,” and be a “Packer for life.” He went on to “compliment” the city of Green Bay by saying there is nothing to do there so there is a much smaller risk of him getting into trouble.
There’s no doubt Finley has the skills of a superstar. Anyone who has watched him play agrees he is a freak of athlete, a wide receiver in the body of a tight end. He is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Just his height of 6-foot-5 gives him a big advantage over an opponent’s secondary.
He’s also one of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ favorite weapons. All offseason, Rodgers talked about excited he was to get No. 88 back on the field and that Finley had the chance to become a truly special tight end.
So Finley wants to stay a Packer and the franchise quarterback agrees with him. That’s fine, but what do the people that truly make that decision, general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy, think?
No clue. Like anything with those two, they’re holding their cards fairly close to the chest. Some word has gotten out of talks between Finley’s agent and the Packers, but there hasn’t been anything concrete.
The question then becomes: Should the Packers bring back Finley long term?
There’s evidence for both answers to that question.
First, the Packers are already loaded with offensive weapons even with Finley off the list. There was no bigger proof of this than the 2010 season in which Finley was lost for the year in week 5 yet the Packers managed to win the Super Bowl. Finley is well aware of this, that they won a Super Bowl without him.
Another concern would be Finley’s twitter account as well as his mouth. During the week leading up to Super Bowl XLV last year, Finley could (and probably should) have steered clear of Nick Barnett’s public protest about injured players being included in the team picture. Instead he joined in.
Exhibit B about Finley’s mouth was earlier this season when he publicly complained about not getting the ball enough. This was a concern of many people given how many offensive weapons the Packers have. Of course, during the game in Atlanta which came right after he made those remarks, Finley dropped what should have been an easy touchdown pass in the end zone so perhaps that served Finley some humble pie.
Along with the bad, there is still a lot of good that would come with keeping Finley on the roster.
It all starts with his aforementioned athletic skills. He’s good enough that he can not only lineup in the traditional tight end spot, but he can also line up wide and be a giant wide receiver. That’s the kind of matchup problem he presents.
This season, Finley is second on the team behind Greg Jennings with 25 receptions and is tied for second with four touchdown receptions, though three of those came in week three against the Chicago Bears. I for one expected higher numbers out of Finley, but this also speaks volumes again about how deep the Packers really are on offense.
The flip side of his personality is that he is basically a kid at heart and just loves playing the game. This can wear on some people, but it also helps keep a locker room loose. Finley hasn’t shown any true signs of becoming a locker room menace like a Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, so that definitely helps his case. McCarthy won’t tolerate any of those shenanigans in his locker room.
There is one other wild card in whether or not Finley stays, and only the tight end will be able to answer it once free agency starts (should he get that far without an extension). He can say all this now, but if a team dangle more money in front of him than the Packers are offering, will a young man like Finley truly be able to resist a bigger paycheck even if it means going to a lesser organization?
Like I said, only Finley can answer that question. I hope it doesn’t come to that. All the attention being paid to Finley is allowing people like Jordy Nelson and James Jones to make plays and has helped make the Packers offense so much more potent.
So I would tell Thompson to re-sign Finley. Tight ends with that skill set only come around maybe once in a career, so letting him slip through his fingers now would be a mistake. If Thompson thinks otherwise, I’m fine with that. After all, Thompson has proven time and time again he knows more about football than I do.
Please Ted. Extend the lease on TGIFinley’s for at least another few years.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke