Five Options for Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley

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With the NFL rumor mill ablaze during the combine, multiple sources have reported/claimed/inferred/guessed/made up/straight up fabricated news that Greg Jennings was a candidate for the franchise tag (Jennings did not receive the tag after all that) and that the Packers were getting sick of Jermichael Finley’s off the field antics and on the field inconsistency are were looking to part ways with the tight end, whether that be from trade or ultimately by cutting him.
Both situations seemed a little odd to me from a logical perspective, so what I’ve done if come up with 5 options that the Packers could choose this offseason deal with Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.  While Jennings and Finley are almost polar opposites in terms of their play style, I think they are intertwined when it comes to the economics of the NFL as well as the well-being of the Packers according to general manager Ted Thompson
  • Option 1: Packers do nothing; Greg Jennings enters free agency and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: This is probably the most realistic situation given Jennings’ recent comments and the historical inactivity of general manager Ted Thompson when it comes to free agent signings.  Jennings believes he’s worth $12-14 million and I’m certain the Packers disagree with that; while Jennings isn’t likely to get a contract average even close to that, he will probably get some higher offers than what the Packers are willing to offer.  On the other hand, it appears as if the Packers are still mixed on their feelings about Jermichael Finley; his up and down performance coupled with his off the field antics (such as throwing his quarterback under the bus), have apparently left some in the Packers’ front office sour.  Unfortunately, Finley also possess the capability to single-handedly break a defense and the Packers will likely give the mercurial tight end one more year to prove he’s worth the money.  Probability: Very likely

  • Option 2: Packers resign Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: In essence this boils down to what sort of market Greg Jennings finds himself in once free agency starts; if it’s a very soft market, Jennings may find that playing with a star quarterback and a stable organization worth more than the slight increase in salary that another team offers.  The Packers lowball Jennings at around $5-6 million per year and he begrudgingly accepts. While it’s unlikely with a player of Jennings’ caliber, James Jones ran into the same problem when he entered free agency only to find no real interest in his services.  In this situation, Jennings’ resigning doesn’t put significant pressure on the salary cap nor the Packers’ capacity to re-sign/sign other players and the Packers let Finley play out his contract to see if he’s worth resigning next year. Probability: Likely

  • Option 3: Packers resign Greg Jennings and trade or cut Jermichael Finley: In this situation, the Packers manage to resign Jennings to a reasonable but pricy contract at around $6-8 million per year but then feel that with Jennings back in the fold, keeping Finley at $8 million is no longer necessary and look to either trade him or cut him outright. The Packers decide that if they were going to keep one player, they’d rather have Jennings than Finley and find a way to move his contract.   Probability: Possible

 

  • Option 4: Greg Jennings enters free agency and Jermichael Finley gets traded or cut: The Packers decide it’s not worth the risk of keeping Jennings on a 1 year franchise tag nor is it worth dealing with all the issues surrounding Finley and decide to cut bait on both players.  Again this is very unlikely because now the Packers have to find two playmakers and given Thompson’s hesitation in free agency, it would have to be through the draft, and who knows who will be around for the Packers to pick. Probability: Unlikely

 

  • Option 5: Greg Jennings does anything, Jermichael Finley lowers his salary: I’m not entirely sure what Packers fans are so angry for Finley stating that he will not take a paycut to remain on the team; perhaps people feel that he’s not really worth $8 million (but there have been plenty of players worth way less than worth their contracts in NFL history than Finley) or they want some sort of atonement for his off the field comments, but either way I don’t see why Finley would agree to a pay cut(and honestly, if you were in Finley’s shoes would you agree to a paycut?).  Most importantly, the Packers are in no position to ask for a pay cut; Finley is their #1 tight end and with only 1 year left on his contract and he’s only 25 years old.  Finley has no incentive to lower his base salary unless the Packers want to sign Finley to an extension (which is possible).  However, Finley simply giving back money to the Packers will not happen.  Realisitically, the only card the Packers can pull on Finley is that if he doesn’t take a pay cut then they will cut him, but at his age and potential, Finley will probably find many suitors for his services as a free agent (and the Packers probably won’t get much compensation outside of compensatory picks) Probability: About as good as Darrell Revis getting traded for Jim Brown

What do you think? My overall feeling is that there is a small possibility that if the market is soft enough for Greg Jennings, he will resign with the Packers but otherwise the Packers are going to let him enter free agency and hope for a high compensatory pick.  As for Finley, I’m not sold anyone in the Packers front office truly knows what to make of him; he’s still a incredibly talented tight end who hasn’t lived up to his potential and while he truly might not be worth $8 million, the team isn’t really encumbered by his deal where it will affect the Packers ability to resign it’s own players or be active in free agency (should they choose to do so).

If you have any more options, post them down in the comment section below.  Try to be a little reasonable though, I don’t want too many “tag Jennings and trade him and Finley for Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow”

 

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • ThomasMagnumPI

    What about signing FA Jared Cook from TEN? From my understanding, he has a very similar skill-set to JMF, but has been “criminally underutilized” (Rotoworld) by TEN.

    Such a signing might not accomplish a lot for 2013, but it could make things a heck of a lot easier in 2014, when JMF’s contract expires. I am not sold on any of the TEs currently on the roster, even though they have all shown potential.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I guess the question becomes, if you do sign Cook what do you do with Finley? I’m not sure how much Cook would really command on the open market, but for arguments sake, say he’s around $4-5 million average. Do you keep Finley in this case? Is Cook better than Finley? Cause Cook sort of has the same rap as Finley, lots of potential but not a lot of on the field production.

      • ThomasMagnumPI

        That is a very fair question, but I think Finley would have to be released in the event of a Cook signing. Of course it’s easy to say that Finley could be traded, but it seems quite unlikely.

        The only upside is that Cook should come more cheaply than JMF. Honestly, I think that both of these guys would benefit from a change in scenery, but who knows. I could see JMF becoming lazy once he signs a long-term deal, wherever that may be.

        Jay brings up a good point that by cutting JMF this year, TT would forefit any chance at a compensatory pick if JMF is not re-singed or extended once his current deal expires. I think that has to be taken into account when we talk about cutting him. Who knows, maybe there would be room for him and a guy like Cook or Fred Davis for one year after all.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I guess my concern is that you would be replacing one guy with tons of talent but moderate production with another guy with tons of talent but moderate talent. Furthermore, what sort of money is Cook looking for? I have a sinking suspicion that he want’s around the same range as Finley does.

          • ThomasMagnumPI

            Sad news, Cook is reportedly looking for a $7-8 million annual salary. If he can get that, maybe there is a trade market for JMF. There’s abut a 0% chance of that happening, but food for thought.

            • Thomas Hobbes

              If Cook is looking for that much, I don’t really see much of an improvement for swapping Finley for Cook. If anything Cook doesn’t know the Packers offense so really it would be a net loss

  • Brian

    Tim Tebow could bring some compition into camp and challenge Brett Goode for his starting job. Otherwise option 1 with the possibility of an exstension for 88 midseason if he is having a good year. If he ever did prove himself to be a reliable target the Packers wouldn’t be able to sign him if he hit free agency.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I wasn’t aware that Tebow knows how to long snap, but I’m sure he’d find some way to run the option-pass as the long snapper.

      The Packers also have the option to franchise Finley if he has a monster year, though he’d probably count as a wide receiver in terms of tags

      • Brian

        I was just making a crack about Tebow not actually being a QB.

        I think a tag is a possibility but I don’t see Tompson wanting to spend that kind of cash.

  • JimR_in_DC

    Jennings will find a suitor to pay him most of what he wants. I suspect it’ll be the Queens.

    Because of what we have behind Finley on the depth chart, I doubt we’d cut Finley. Perhaps if we could find a trade partner, but that’s unlikely given his salary.

    • jay

      One other thing that I haven’t heard mentioned: if we cut Finley this year, we get nothing in return for him. If we let him play out his contract and then he signs elsewhere, we’re in the running for a comp pick in 2015. Just a thought.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I wasn’t aware that players who are cut don’t count towards the compensatory pick calculations. My assumption was that if the team had a net loss of veterans then they would be awarded compensatory picks

        • Stroh

          Comp picks are only in regards to players who become FA and leave. If a team releases a player from contract they don’t get a comp pick.

          • Thomas Hobbes

            Interesting, then that’s a great point Jay that no one has been talking about

  • Ed Schoenfeld

    There is also #6: Jennings does whatever, and Finley signs an extension that lowers his cap number for the next 3 years or so.

    They could re-do Finley either before (less likely) or after (more likely) paying the roster bonus.

    Granted this option means that TT an MM are convinced Finley has grown up and will play more like he did in the last half of 2012.

    I’d rate that likelihood higher than anything involving re-signing Jennings.

    Finley and Jennings do not actually have interchangeable skill sets, and it would be a lot more effective for Finley to meet his role in the offense than to work in a new guy like Cook (or whoever.)

    • Thomas Hobbes

      That is a definite possibility, the only caveat is how much Finley is going to be asking for. My guess is somewhere in the top 10 range in terms of salary and are the Packers willing to pay out that amount at this moment? Even if Finley were to have a good season I would still think they would be hesitant

      • ThomasMagnumPI

        I think top 10 is optimistic from the GBP’s end. Finley is already compensated as a top 5 TE for this year (as best as I can remember), and I doubt he will be willing to take an annual salary that pays less than what he is making in 2013.

        I am also somewhat worried that he would pack it in once he signs a long-term contract with lots of guaranteed money.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          Agreed, but for a long term contract, I don’t think the Packers can afford top 10 and certainly not top 5. The reason that Finley’s salary is so high this year is that it was basically an agreement between Finley and the Packers to settle the issue of whether he should have been tagged last year as a tight end or a wide receiver. What they did was basically take the two numbers, divide by two and you get roughly $7-8 million a year. Finley is happy because he gets more money and isn’t tagged, the Packers are happy because they get two more years to see where he goes.

  • Ron LC

    Option #1 hands down. Jennings is really sticking with his self-assigned value. The Ravens signing Flaco for $120 mil is proof of that.

    Everything TT and MM will do for the next two years is centered on “Cap Space” for AR’s contract. That is the elephant in the room. Flaco = $120 mil, AR=$??? mil. It will be at least $135 mil over 6 years. Unless they can be creative enough with up front $, that is. Flaco is getting $51 mil guarenteed.

    What makes it more interesting is the fact that the big 3, AR, CM3, and Raji all have the same agent. Is he going to go for broke with AR and dump CM3 and Raji? Is he going to be reasonalbe with all 3? I know reasonalbe and agent in the same sentence is an oxymoron.

    Could be a fun topic though.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I wouldn’t compare Flacco to Jennings at the moment; Flacco is coming off a Super Bowl win, is considerably younger, in a more important position and got incredibly lucky that everything came up Milhouse. Jennings on the other hand is hitting 30 (which is bad for a WR), been hurt 4 times in the last calendar year, and has never been the fastest, strongest or biggest WR. My feeling is that Rodger’s accuracy and timing make Jennings a dangerous weapon, and if another quarterback isn’t as accurate or fluid as Rodgers, Jennings doesn’t have the physical talents to compensate.

      Finally I highly doubt any agent would dump Raji and CMIII, especially with them coming up on a contract year. If anything having all three under the same agent makes things easier for the Packers since maybe they can use that as a limit for Rodgers contract i.e. we can’t pay Rodgers that much cause then we won’t have the money to pay Raji and CMIII

      • Ron LC

        Absolutely not a direct comparison – just the fact that there are morons who’ll pay just about anything.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          I’m pretty sure the Ravens know they are paying way above market value, but they have no choice, if they don’t sign him to a ridiculous contract, they look like even bigger idiots than the did when they gave Flacco the deal

  • Tarynfor12

    This is the last sentence of Option 1…

    “Unfortunately, Finley also possess the capability to single-handedly break a defense and the Packers will likely give the mercurial tight end one more year to prove he’s worth the money”.

    IMO,it’s this belief that has many a media induced writer putting out articles that create stir and thrive on those who believe this actually happens.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I would agree with that with a slight caveat; Finley in late 2009 was that sort of defense destroying player that all the media mentions, just check out his game against Pittsburgh. Has the hype gone on perhaps a little too long? Yah probably.

  • http://www.aol.com mark

    Finley is gone. Over paid, under productive and a whiner. Jennings is a possibility with the franchise tag. Other wise both are gone and the Packers look for some dl help and rb help in FA.

    • JimR_in_DC

      You missed the news, Mark, Jennings wasn’t tagged.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      How does DL and RB free agents help the passing game? Sure the Packers have pretty good depth in that regards, but if you take out Jennings, Finley and Driver, that’s a pretty big hit. Also consider that James Jones is on a contract year and Jordy Nelson’s contract is ending soon too.

    • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

      His suggestions were good though. Finley is overpaid, under productive, and a huge whiner. What I don’t really get is I don’t think that Finley was really “All That” in the second half of the season. He still didn’t score much, (1 TD) the yardage was modest, especially for what he’s paid. His best game was against the Vikings which we lost where he caught 8 balls for 87 yards. Maybe I’m wrong boys and girls but it seemed like 5 or 6 catches for 50 or 60 yards was the norm. Is that really something to be that excited about or is it just he didn’t drop the ball as much? Just asking…

      • ThomasMagnumPI

        I think we are placing too much value on box-score stats, and not enough on his overall contributions to the team. I really have no idea on whether he “opens up the passing game” to a significant degree or not, but I think that is the biggest argument to why he has a high value.

        Take Vernon Davis in SF this year. His box score numbers were nothing to write home about, but I would imagine that the coverage that he commands opened things up for Crabtree (who had his best year thus far) and probably for Kaepernick running the ball as well.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I would say that’s pretty impressive for a tight end. I would wager you are comparing tight ends to wide receivers, who typically get more yards and score more touchdowns. Outside of maybe Gronk or Graham, 50-60 yards is a pretty good day for a tight end.

  • bobalou13

    I’d be shocked at anything other than option 1. Jennings is gone. Somebody will pay more than TT. Move on. Same goes for Finley. Get what production you can out of him this year, hopefully with minimal drama and use the time to groom more receiving talent. And, move on. I’m beginning to think Jones is going to be the tough one to replace, believe it or not.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Jones’ contract is done after 2014 and Nelson’s is done after 2015. I would say Jones is going to be super hard to keep, unless you think Rodgers, CMIII and Raji are all going to be signed before then. If in 2014 Rodgers, CMIII and Jones all need new contracts, it’s going to be tough

  • Ryan

    I don’t really see why we’re still connecting ourselves with Jennings. To me he’s no longer a part of the team, and is in the same boat as Woodson pretty much. I’m much more concerned about Finley coming back and not turning this into a grudge match between himself and TT.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I guess it’s because Jennings was a “Packer person”, in the sense that he was always reserved, well spoken, eloquent and generally came off as a nice guy. I think a lot of people dislike Finley because he is brash, says pretty much whatever he’s thinking without much thought into the consequences and to top it off is the worst kind of tease. I feel Packers fans feel much more connected to Jennings than Finley. To put it another way, I think Packers fans would favor Donald Driver over Finley, even when Driver basically couldn’t play.

  • Lars1

    The Packers do not sign Greg Jennings—see Jenkins, Cullen and Jenkins learns the hard way his value is closer to that of Hartline $6 million, than Bowe—$11 million. Very Likely.

    The Packers trade Finley and draft a TE early—Possible.

    The Packers cut Finley. Very unlikely.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      You never know, would you have thought Daryn Colledge was worth a 5-year $27 million dollar contract? I know the Packers didn’t, most people in the league probably didn’t either but the Arizona Cardinals were apparently happy to pay that much. Hell, the Raiders paid 30ish year old Javon Walker a 6-year $55 million contract

  • Lars1

    Jennings learns the hard way—like Jenkins.;)

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Well who knows, as they say “it only takes one”. Though this year there are a couple less crazy people with Al Davis passing away and the Cowboys being in cap hell right now.

  • Savage57

    Does anyone know any standardized or uniform dates mandated by the CBA for payment of various bonus types and other L/NTBE incentives?

    Seems to me than now that tags are over all there’s to do is wait…

    And speculate, over and over, day after day, twist after twist as to what might happen.

    Here’s to the Internet – Adding New Dimensions to the Offseason for Packers and NFL Fandom for Over 10 years.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      As far are I know, the dates are written in to the contract and there is no standardization of bonus payment at the moment. Some players have bonuses kick in the day of the new season (day after the superbowl), some have some kick in before free agency starts (lots of the players getting cut now for instance), Jermichael Finley has a bonus coming in at the end of March and Charles Woodson had a big bonus coming if he was on the roster at training camp. Based on that I would say there isn’t a standard but if anyone knows more, I’d love to know.