Free agents: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless
Entering final contract year: Ryan Taylor
We’re going to start off by assuming the Green Bay Packers won’t clear Jermichael Finley to return. Finley had spinal fusion surgery after suffering a horrific neck injury early in the 2013 season. Even if the Packers do clear Finley, they probably won’t be able to afford to re-sign him.
That’s ultimately the problem here. Without Finley, the Packers don’t have a proven playmaking tight end. They tried to draft another Finley by selecting Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams.
Quarless hasn’t turned into that guy, and will be a free agent like Finley, and Williams was cut during training camp prior to last season.
Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner are the tight ends currently under contract. Bostick has shown flashes of playmaking ability in limited opportunities, but he’s still a huge project as a blocker. Taylor is better known as a special teams player than as a tight end. Stoneburner didn’t have a catch in 2013 after coming up from the practice squad.
You can’t tell me the Packers will get by with a Bostick/Taylor tight end combination in 2014. They could re-sign Quarless on the cheap and he could serve as a temporary stop-gap solution.
However, even with Quarless, there’s no real playmaker at the position and that makes it weak.
Without Finley or someone like him, the passing game will have to run almost exclusively through the wide receivers.