The tenure of one of the most controversial members of the Green Bay Packers, Jermichael Finley, seems to be coming to an end. Bob McGinn of the Milwuakee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the Packers will trade or cut Finley this offseason. McGinn’s source reports that this will be done for "financial, competitive and behavioral reasons."
These reasons are probably not surprising to many of you. Most of this season J-Mike has been a whipping boy around these parts for his disappointing play. He has dropped too many passes, often in critical times, to match with the contract he was given as well as the quotes that he has put out in the press. The past couple years Finley has always seemed like a square peg in a round hole. There was always the talk of his talent and potential, yet he just did not seem to fit in with the Packers and the team mentality. He would talk a little too much, celebrate a little too much, and just not be in sync with Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense. It also did not help Finley’s case when his agent took shots at Aaron Rodgers on Twitter. Or that Finley has complained about not getting the ball enough, with Randall Cobb taking his playmaking spot from the 2009 season. Or that he and Aaron Rodgers don’t have chemistry right now.
What is interesting though is the timing of this particular announcement. It was probably going to be an uphill battle for the Packers to find a trading partner for Finley this offseason, but with teams outright knowing that’s their intention, a decent trade may be impossible. Finley is due top end tight end money, but he has had average to below average production this season. In the McGinn article one NFL scout ranked Finley as the 22nd best tight end in the league, and given his erratic hands and diva-like attitude, it’s hard to say that this particular scout is alone in his assessment. That is why the Packers are looking to dump Finley after all.
One question I have surrounding the timing is the reaction from Finley himself. The Packers are trying to make a playoff push and Super Bowl run now…and they will need Finley to produce in the meantime in order to accomplish that goal. Will Finley man up to the challenge or will he sulk and attempt to tank the team that seems to have given up on him? It would only make sense for Finley to give his best effort now in order to increase his value. Nothing earns a player money like a fresh new Super Bowl ring and a string of impressive performances in the playoffs. Just ask Desmond Howard.
Ultimately McGinn concludes that the Packers should be fine by moving on from Finley. Even without Jennings and Finley the Packers have plenty of skill players to field a top notch offense. There is also reason to believe that coach McCarthy’s new found emphasis on the running game may help transition the offense away from Finley’s presence on the field; he does have the reputation of being a poor blocker and is often replaced by Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams, or Andrew Quarless in running situations.
The bottom line for the Packers is that this offseason looks to bring an overhaul to the offense. Greg Jennings is scheduled to be a free agent and there are legitimate questions as to whether he will be back. Finley looks to be gone, leaving some solid – yet undynamic – options in that group. The offensive line also looks to need some significant reinforcements with questions of the long term health of Derek Sherrod popping up as well the need to find a long term answer at Center. It’s too early for draft talk, but expect Finley’s departure to dominate draft analysis as good prospects like Notre Dame Tyler Eifert slide down to the Packers in the first round.