This will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly, but the Green Bay Packers and tight end Jermichael Finley are headed toward a divorce at season’s end, according to Bob McGinn.
Sources familiar with the Packers’ thinking say the club not only wants to get rid of Finley but has decided to do exactly that in the off-season.
It means that if the Packers cannot find a trade partner, they are prepared to release Finley because of financial, competitive and behavioral reasons.
There is no way the Packers will pick up the second half of the two-year, $14 million contract they gave Finley in late February, according to sources.
That pretty much says it all and we’ve discussed each of these factors before.
Finley is due $8 million next season. He’s put up 48 catches for 525 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Those numbers aren’t commensurate with an $8 million payday. In fact, they’re not even commensurate with the $7 million Finley is making this season.
The Packers have a pretty easy out, though.
Finley is due a $3 million roster bonus in March. If he’s on the roster, the Packers have to pay him. If he isn’t, they don’t. The only thing that will count against the Packers salary cap next season is $500,000, which is half of Finley’s signing bonus.
Beyond not playing up to his contract, there are the well-documented off-field distractions. Finley likes to run his mouth. He’s brought up his lack of chemistry with Aaron Rodgers several times this season and there was the incident where Finley’s agent said Rodgers isn’t a leader.
That act is getting old.
So how is this going to play out?
Well, it’s hard to trade a player when everyone knows you’re going to release him. That being said, Finley certainly has some talent and teams who have no talent at tight end may certainly be willing to give up a late-round pick for him — if they can negotiate a new contract.
Arizona and Oakland come to mind.
More importantly, what will the Packers do?
Well, they’ll have four tight ends returning next season without Finley — Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor. Quarless started for an injured Finley during the Packers Super Bowl run and both Williams’ and Crabtree’s playing time has increased this season.
The Packers certainly have bodies to fill the void. They also have a passing attack that doesn’t rely nearly as heavily on the tight end as they’ve done in previous years.
Finley is currently probably the fifth option on offense, behind Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and James Jones.
For his part, Finley says he wants to remain with the Packers.
“I didn’t check it out,” Finley told ESPN of the report. “It’s a business, and I would love to be here my whole career. I’m comfortable here, and I want to be a Packer for life. That’s all I can say about that.”
It looks like the writing is pretty clearly on the wall though.