Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #6 — Finley’s finale?

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Jermichael Finley came on after the bye week last season. Will this be Finley's last season in Green Bay?
Jermichael Finley came on after the bye week last season. Will this be Finley’s last season in Green Bay?

In five years with the Packers, Jermichael Finley has gone from being the outspoken tight end to a focal point of the offense, and again, back to the outspoken tight end.

And in a circus-cautious locker room such as the one in Green Bay, Finley has been one of the most scrutinized players on the team since being drafted in 2008.

To most fans, for every positive from Finley, there’s two negatives. But to the Packers, for every negative, there’s a plethora positives. And for that reason, the team has committed to (at least) one more year from the 26-year-old tight end.

Finley enjoyed a breakout 2009 season, his second in the NFL. Finley caught 55 passes for 676 yards and five scores. His per-game averages of 4.2 catches and 52 yards are still the highest of his five-year career.

Fan perception of Finley throughout the past two seasons has been predominantly negative.

Due to dropped passes, the 2011 season was largely a disappointment. In total, Finley dropped 14 passes–the most by any tight end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. But Finley started the season well. Through the first nine games of the season, Finley dropped just three passes and caught 33. Over the final eight games, Finley’s number of drops ballooned to 11.

Still, his season numbers were nothing to scoff at. His 55 receptions tied a career high, and he set new personal bests with 767 yards and eight touchdowns.

This past season was, again, a tale of two halves for Finley.

He dropped nine passes through the Packers’ first 12 games. But after a Week 13 win over the Vikings, Finley didn’t drop another pass the rest of the season. Over that six-game stretch, Finley caught 25 balls on 33 targets.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy took note of the improvement by praising Finley after the season.

“I really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, a different player from the bye week on,” McCarthy said, per JSOnline.com. “I had an opportunity to talk to him about that at length in his exit interview, so I feel very good about the way he finished the year.”

This summer, McCarthy, for the sixth time, will get a look his potential matchup nightmare during training camp. But with Finley entering the final year of his contract, the possibility remains that this could be his last year with the Packers.

Question: Will this be Finley’s final training camp in Green Bay?

Unlike our previous four “Training Camp Topics,” this question will not be answered this summer. It will be answered either during the season if Finley signs an extension, or the conclusion could come after the season.

As things currently stand, Finley is the only starting-caliber tight end on the Packers roster. Andrew Quarless started three games as a rookie during the team’s run to Super Bowl XLV, but he missed the entire 2012 season with an injury. Beyond Quarless and Finley, it’s hard to label any of the Packers’ tight ends as potential starters.

Finley isn’t the most well-liked Packer among the team’s passionate fan base. But general manager Ted Thompson doesn’t care; he will do what he feels is best for the team.

Best guess: No

If Thompson lets Finley walk and moves on, he will have a plan in place. Either Quarless will prove he can be “the guy” for a full 16-game season, or Thompson will have to bring in a guy to be his starting tight end.

But despite being just slightly above average in terms of production the past two years, Finley’s value to the offense cannot be overlooked. Yes, they won the Super Bowl in 2010 after losing Finley in Week 5, but opposing defenses are forced to account for Finley on every play.

Last season, when Finley was off the field, the Arizona Cardinals put 35-year-old middle linebacker Paris Lenon on tight end Tom Crabtree. Even the not-so-athletic Crabtree was able to get behind the aging linebacker, allowing Aaron Rodgers to hit him up the seam for a long touchdown. On that play, the Packers benefitted from Finley being off the field. But over the course of a 16-game season, that may not be the case.

The answer to this question won’t come during training camp, but this is still a situation worth monitoring this summer. The 2013 season is truly “perform or move on” time for Finley.


Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


26 thoughts on “Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #6 — Finley’s finale?

    1. Nice catch but not a “typo,” Nick. They no longer teach grammar in elementary school nor at Marques’ school of journalism.

        1. I see, Marques, that in response to Nick’s “catch,” you changed “has went” to “has gone” in the first sentence of your article. Yes, there is a difference between the past tense form of an irregular verb and its past participle. But, in fairness to you, Marques, contemporary journalists and writers don’t have to know the rules of grammar. Their editors do. It’s only a problem if you are your own editor.

              1. No one was talking to anyone, all you were doing was throwing barbs. Hardly “talking” with your irregular verbs and part of Cybil. Stay on topic.

          1. Greg – I know this. I made a mistake, Nick pointed out, and I corrected it. But hey, thanks for reading. Here’s a virtual gold star for you.

          2. Really?! Who gives a rip. You edit yours and if gou find something like this let it go unless it completely changes the message.

  1. I think Finley’s really putting all he has into this year his contract year.
    He’s been really quiet this off season.
    I think he has something to prove in 2013.
    I also think he’l benefit from the threat of an improved running game.

  2. As much as I want to get behind Finley, between the inconsistency he’s shown year after year and his tendency to gravitate to head-case status, I’m keeping my expectations for production from this position banked.

    Everything about Finley needs to be viewed through short term lenses. If he plays over the top, it’ll be for him and not the team, and will leave people wondering “where was this the last three years?”. If he lays another average egg, it’ll have been $8MM flushed down the toilet.

    The only scenario that has much appeal is Finley produces to such a level that it propels the team to a deep playoff run before he heads out of Dodge for his payday. He’s never done it before, so maybe his self-interests will provide the motivation he needs to finally be the player that comes close to matching the hype and potential.

  3. I’d bet Finley is gone after the year. If he does great, TT can’t afford him (and Sam, and BJ, and James and…)

    If he is inconsistent or mediocre, then we don’t want him.

  4. “Finley isn’t the most well-liked Packer among the team’s passionate fan base. But general manager Ted Thompson doesn’t care; he will do what he feels is best for the team.” – Love this statement. Ted could care less what we all think…. Jarrett Bush for example. I doubt Finley gets the big deal from the Pack that he might think is coming. I might be wrong because Finley supposedly shut up and has finally been a good, quiet, teammate so far this year, but I don’t think it lasts. I’ll continue to root for Finley like I always have, but I doubt he ever turns into the dominant TE we all thought he would be and wouldn’t be surprised if he gets set back with an injury. Don’t forget, he is always getting banged up and struggling with lingering injuries. I was surprised Finley and his agent decided to go all in on a risky short term contract but then again, neither of them seem like the brightest people.

  5. I’m going to be the lone dissenting voice. I think Finley gets a multi-year contract before next season. TEs are becoming more and more important pas receiving targets in the NFL and Finley is a guy that defenses need to account for. I think he has a very good year (won’t be a monster year because AR also has 3 very good WR targets.

    1. Not the only one. I’ve been sayin all offseason. I think he gets another contract. I don’t mind him talkin reminds me of LeRoy Butler. A d I love what he brings on the field.

      Last year I had a choice of jerseys and I got Finley over Jennings. Guess I made the right choice, at least for now. 🙂

    2. I also agree. Why use a high pick to replace him when TT can re-sign him. Finley had a jammed knee two years ago and finally is healthy again. He also has put on muscle and is blocking better.

      TT will get a deal done by end of October if Finely shows up game time.

      1. Blocking better? Finley is an impressive athlete but he is very inconsistent with effort in the blocking game.

  6. I believe that Finley’s contract situation in large part will be dependent on the development of our young receivers. Hear me out.

    I predict that outside the “Big 3”, Boykin, Ross, and undrafted free agent Myles White will make the final roster. If either Boykin or Ross can establish themselves as a serviceable #4 WR with the potential to develop into a #3 next year, then Ted will elect to resign the younger Finley to a multi-year deal. As mentioned there is little receiving threats at TE behind Finley. JJ will be 30 and there is more depth at WR. That of course is also dependent on a solid and healthy season from Finley. Hopefully they can get something done mid season, some where in the 4 year $27 million range with 12 $million guaranteed.

    If he has a huge year and they can’t work out a deal with Finley the franchise tag is always an option, but TT rarely uses it.It’s more likely they would resign Jones and hope that Quarles and Williams can step up.

    1. The Franchise tag on Finley would be about 125% of his salary this year. That would put it over 10M. The Franchise tag is out of the equation w/ Finley. Either sign him to a long term contract or he leaves.

  7. It’s basically a put up and shut up year for this incredibly frustrating player. I’ve pretty much given up on him ever becoming a great TE. One of the biggest wastes of talent in Packer history.

  8. If Finley would just keep his mouth shut and focus on the game of football, he could well at least make me less nervice when I see them throw him the ball!!! Go Pack

  9. While Finley has size and speed, he does NOT have the athletic ability shown by the Gronk or egads, Hernandez did for Pats, nor the ability shown by Tony Gonzalez or Jimmy Graham. Looks like Finley shows promise when it’s money time for a new contract, at other times it looks like his head is elsewhere, especially when the drops occur. He gets resigned if he produces and his price is not as big as his mouth.

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