6

February

Former and Current Free Agent Packers Want To Return

Jermichael Finley

Finley seems determined to return to football and prove that he is back to full strength

The NFL season has been over for a measly three days now but the Green Bay Packers season has been over for nearly a month.  Things obviously slow down when teams aren’t preparing for games each week and the constant news hits dwindle.

Still, this has been a busy week for some Packers chatter and I thought I’d offer a break in between our player evaluation and reports cards here at allgbp.com and highlight a few of the stories that have been most widely discussed.

“Discussed” and “news” are two different things, but if nothing else, there are at least a few debate topics here.

The first was a story by NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling about tight end Jermichael Finley.  Finley is currently a free agent after having spent the first six years of his NFL career with the Packers.  Finley’s agent has gone on record as saying that J-Mike, as he is frequently called, would love nothing more than to finish his career in Green Bay.  Whether that will happen is another thing.

Finley was seriously injured early in the 2013 season on a play in which he took a shot to his neck by Cleveland Browns safety Tashaun Gipson.  Finley was placed on season-ending injured reserve and needed surgery to fuse the C3 and C4 vertebrae in his neck.  Many question swirled about whether Finley would play football again, let alone return to the Packers.

Finley stated earlier this week that he expects his doctors to clear him to resume football activity, most notably contact, within the next month or so.  Gaining medical clearance from a doctor is one thing.  Gaining that clearance from a NFL team doctor is another.

While Finley and his agent have expressed a preference to remain in Green Bay and get a new contract worked out, Finley has also stated that he does not plan to discount his services.  With 19 total players set to hit free agency next month, the Packers are going to have some decisions to make as far as who to keep and at what price.

Finley certainly represents a risk, even if cleared to return to football.  There can be no guarantee that he won’t re-injure his neck and such an occurrence would have major implications not only for Finley the football player, but also Finley the man, husband and father.  It’s hard to say which direction Finley’s return and potential negotiations with interested teams will go.

The Packers ultra-conservative approach to player health and especially neck injuries is well-documented.  I can see the team taking a look at Finley and evaluating his progress since the neck injury.  That would just be wise due diligence by the Packers.  Beyond that, I am not all that optimistic about Finley’s chances of returning to Green Bay.  This is one situation that will be heavily monitored over the next few months and as we get closer to the NFL draft in May.   Should Finley be unable to return or should the Packers decide to pass on him, tight end would immediately become a bigger need and would likely have a ripple effect on the team’s offseason personnel acquisition strategy.

Perhaps Finley’s outspokenness motivated another former Packer player to declare his readiness to return to football.  Jason Wilde at ESPN Milwaukee penned an article after recently speaking with former Packers safety Nick Collins.  During the Super Bowl this past week, Collins took to Twitter to apparently declare himself ready to return to football and the NFL.

At the time, Collins was vacationing with Packers cornerback Tramon Williams and free agent wide receiver James Jones, both of whom were teammates with Collins on the Packers 2010 Super Bowl championship team.  Perhaps Jones and Williams also got in Collins’ ear, as players tend to do when they get together during the offseason (see the reported conversation between Finley and New York Giants safety Antrelle Rolle in the Wesseling article).

For whatever reason, Collins chose now to declare his eagerness to return.  What Wilde discovered after speaking with Collins is that nothing has changed about the former safety’s health status.  While Collins says that the surgeon who performed his surgery (also a fusing of the C3 and C4 vertebrae) told him that he is “100% healed”, that does not necessarily translate to also being cleared to resume football activity.

Back in 2011 when Collins was injured and after the severity of his injury was learned, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said that if Collins were his son, he would not let him return to playing football.  Now two years later and with no NFL team having given Collins a look, it’s hard to imagine that the Packers would change their stance.

We need only look at the statistics that the Packers safeties put up this season to understand why this has become such a big topic of conversation.  There were a lot of zero’s and single digits turned in by a position group that, in recent history, has been one of the most solid in Green Bay.  The 2013 season marked the first in which Packers safeties logged zero interceptions in over 60 years.  Collins logged 21 interceptions over six seasons with the Packers and many fans are holding onto the idea that Collins can simply return and be “that” Nick Collins.  That’s just not reality after two years away and after a major injury.

Collins says that Packers team doctor Pat McKenzie was the only doctor who was unsure about the idea of clearing him to resume his career.  If that’s true, then there are a lot of doctors who are apparently hiding under rocks.  I would have to think that at least one of the other 31 teams in the league would have at least contacted Collins about a return, if they felt there was any chance he could do so.  I’m also not anywhere near wanting to start a conversation about collusion in the NFL simply because there is none.

Collins has likely played his last snap in the NFL and this story will probably become moot pretty quickly.  For those pointing to a recent return from neck injury by Packers safety Sean Richardson, keep in mind that Richardson had the C5 an C6 vertebrae fused.  While any neck and back surgery is a big deal, Richardson’s particular case offers less risk of another occurrence of the same injury or more serious health issues if it does.

In looking at some early mock drafts, many of them have the Packers taking a safety with their first round pick.  Names such as Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha’Sean “HaHa” Clinton-Dix have been mentioned.  Our team of writers will certainly be breaking down these prospects, as well as countless others as we lead to the draft.  If the Packers can land a top-notch defensive back in this year’s draft or in free agency (humor me and read on), they would be wise to do so.

Packers fans can be grateful to Nick Collins for six seasons of solid safety play and for his electric pick-six in Super Bowl XLV.  Ironically, today is the three-year anniversary of that play and championship game, but that was three years ago.  While a lot has changed since then, the Packers’ stance on Collins shouldn’t.

While Collins

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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26 Responses to “Former and Current Free Agent Packers Want To Return”

  1. Big T says:

    Nick is done and so is Finley. Finley is just trying to get another pay day, he knows he will never play for real again. Nick was a huge loss that was never replaced. Finley is very replaceable…

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    • Stroh says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

      Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 14

      • packett says:

        Stroh, learn a thing or two about basic human courtesy. Anonymity is no excuse.

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        • JimR_in_DC says:

          Stroh has all the personality of a root canal.

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        • Nick Perry says:

          Oh Packett, you didn’t know? If he doesn’t agree with you he insults you, the name calling begins, and when he’s really mad he breaks out the CAPS!! But this, this is my all time favorite Stroh comment, actually believing he deserves credit for the piece.

          Stroh says:
          December 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm
          Thanks for saying what I have been for the past month. Saying that Capers should be replaced w/ a different 34 DC is exactly my thinking. I don’t particularly think Phillips 34 is best either, since far as I know it hasn’t won a SB.

          Either way more accountability and leardership from the DC is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying! I don’t know why Capers D’s seem to regress over time, but I do know its very much a trend and personally I attribute it to lacking both accountability and leadership from the DC.

          Once again thanks for listening to my advise and writing an article on it, even if you don’t credit me! Tho that would be nice too.

          Or later in the same piece this:

          Stroh says:
          December 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm
          Actually in the Packers current version of the 34 it is one of the bigger responsibilities of the Strong ILB. But don’t allow a HOF ILB to dissuade you from your uninformed opinion!

          Surely you know more about NFL defenses w/ your outstanding experience, of what is it? How many years have you been playing/coaching in the NFL?

          Maybe you outta listen and learn occasionally!

          Tundra Vision: The Phillips Brand of 3-4 Could Be Recipe For Success

          This was something that was written on Cheesehead TV on December 15th, 2013. He actually knows a few things but he doesn’t agree with you, the names and insults come. I call them “Keyboard Warriors”, but that’s me. Just ignore him, I do.

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        • Stroh says:

          Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Savage57 says:

        Stroh:

        I think that most of the folks that come on this site don’t start out having an ‘axe to grind’ with you. Most of the stuff you write has very good basis, underlying logic and cogent reasoning that supports your position. But for whatever reason, you usually seem to find a way to add a line or a comment, usually patting yourself on the back , claiming preemptive co-origination for someone else’s post or jump all over someone else’s right to hold a contrary position/point of view and sprinkle it all with some nasty insults that just light people up.

        What might really help cut down on all the ‘thumbs down’ you get on your posts would be for you to go back and re-read what you’ve written, and then just before you click on the ‘Submit Comment’ button, stop and ask yourself this question:

        “How can I word this so I get my point across but don’t come off like such a dick?”

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  2. DannyM says:

    Locking up cap space to players with neck injuries is foolish.

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  3. Rossoneri83 says:

    Finley’s played his last game in green and gold. He’s not thinking long-term at all about his health and the real chance he could end up in a wheelchair. It’s not worth it, but perhaps some other team will take a chance on him, but not for big money — that’s for sure.

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  4. Chad Lundberg says:

    Finish in Green Bay? Not happening Finley, go sign with the Seahawks like you said you wanted to. You’re too injury prone anyway.

    Give Collins a physical, let’s not jump to the conclusion that playing him is too risky. Pat McKenzie isn’t exactly a doctor with clean diagnostics’ record. Far from it.

    Won’t be fair if GB’s doctors turn him down and we end up seeing him play in another uniform.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    • Stroh says:

      There is NO reason at all why other teams can’t take a look and give Collins a physical. Yet not one other team has asked for his medical chart nor given him a physical. THAT is very telling! Collins playing in the NFL again has very little to do w/ McKenzie and the Packers feelings. Just cuz they don’t want to take a chance on him doesn’t preclude other teams doing so. Doesn’t it occur to you to question why NO other teams are in contact w/ him before you spout off about McKenzie’s track record? Packers are conservative but there are 31 other teams and NONE are talking to Collins either!

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      • Chad Lundberg says:

        “There is NO reason at all why other teams can’t take a look and give Collins a physical. Yet not one other team has asked for his medical chart nor given him a physical”.

        You don’t know that. Collins could be trying to wait for Green Bay to clear him and hopefully play for them again. He’s only just now suggesting playing for any other team now, possibly because he’s 30 and running out of time at this point.

        Peyton Manning had a similar surgery (four in fact) yet there he is still playing. I don’t really know why teams (possibly) haven’t bothered with Collins, but I don’t see how it makes a difference. If he’s healthy, he’s healthy, that’s all there is to it.

        “Collins playing in the NFL again has very little to do w/ McKenzie and the Packers feelings.”

        You ought to know, as almost every other Packers fan out there knows, the Packers are as conservative as can be. Especially when it comes to injuries.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

        • Stroh says:

          Whats preventing other teams from taking a look at his chart or bringing him in for a physical? Absolutely nothing… Yet NONE have. That has nothing to do w/ McKenzie.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

          • Chad Lundberg says:

            Are you trying to suggest that other teams know something that we don’t or something? I don’t see your point.

            Like I said, it’s possible that other teams have contacted him and he turned them down. He’s only now changing his mind. This is just a possibility though.

            Collins has said that his personal doctor has said he’s 100% healthy. Yes, I know that’s different from a team doctor actually clearing him for contact, but worth mentioning.

            But regardless of all that, there just can’t be any harm in giving him a physical.

            If nothing else, make him a coach. He’s stated that he’s always wanted to.

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    • David says:

      Could you please tell me where Dr. McKenzie has messed up, diagnostically?

      If by diagnostically you mean he failed to practice medicine and use the tools available to him correctly, then he needs to go.

      Didn’t he receive some award not too long ago? Or am I also, “far from it?”

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      • Stroh says:

        You’re Spot On!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      • Chad Lundberg says:

        You mean you don’t know that the medical staff has been misdiagnosing injuries? For example, Nick Perry suffered a knee injury in 2012, but upon further inspection, they found a wrist injury that had happened four games prior which lead to IR. Greg Jennings had a groin injury, that later turned out to be an abdominal injury that kept him out most of the year. Derek Sherrod suffered a leg injury that took a year to heal, and when he started practicing again, something didn’t feel right, and upon further inspection, they found that his foot had also been badly injured and required a second surgery, which is why it has taken Sherrod so long to get back on the field. Bulaga had an injury that at first was not thought to be serious, a week later they found he had a season ending hip injury.

        And those are just the ones I can remember at the top of my head. Look it up dude, the medical staff has been goofy lately.

        There’s actually a fair number of injuries that have happened in the past few seasons that simply don’t add up.

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  5. WKUPackFan says:

    I have no problem with either Nick or JMike wanting to play again. It’s their health, their bodies; it should be a personal decision with them and their families. That doesn’t mean that the Packers or any other team will or should give them the opportunity, but they shouldn’t be castigated for wanting to play.

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  6. GBPDAN says:

    I’d bet a years pay that neither Finley nor Collins will ever play for the Packers again. Let’s move on

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  7. 1) Chad ur correct but small note (not criticism) the initial injury report is almost always scewed, especially if the report is from the player who usually is trying to tell people he can play ( but gets to let team then say he is unable-thus preserving some toughness for the player ; at least as he sees it in the way others view him for not playing).Also many teams severly stretch the truth when it comes to injuries.
    2) personally i hope Finely signs with someone and we get big fat 3-4th comp pick-only way i could see us taking him is for 100% salary only contract so if hurt we push nothing into future yrs, if not it would hurt any team for them to sign him for 3-4yr contract then he gets hurt and is done–MY real expectations is someone signs him for probably 1 yr deal or heavily laden INCENTIVE deal, maybe with unheard of roster bonuses or something.I just dont see Pack doing it though-they are too conservative.

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  8. Since '61 says:

    I don’t see either Collins or Finley returning to GB. To me, Collins has been the much bigger loss for the Packers. Our safety play has gotten worse every year since he was hurt and has impacted every phase of the defense. Meanwhile the offense has been without JMike a few times now and has continued to play well as long as Rodgers was healthy. We should be able to pick up a quality TE through either FA or the draft, so I see no need to risk cap money on Finley. Let another team take the risk if he is in fact cleared by an NFL team doctor. As for Collins, maybe the Packers can offer him a role as safeties coach. With the inexperience and incompetence we have at safety maybe Collins can help our guys out by coaching. At best we will probably have another 1 or 2 rookie safeties on the team following the draft and they will need to learn fast also. I realize that Collins probably would not accept coaching since it doesn’t pay like playing but it’s probably the closest that he will ever get to the field again, so why not keep his experience with the Packers? Thanks, Since ’61

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  9. 1stngoal says:

    I wish Ted Thompson would make a run at Jimmy Graham…

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    • Shavager says:

      1stngoal–you don’t actually think Graham would sign with Pack on a team friendly contract do you? He’s showed off his abilities in his first contract–he’s gonna want BIG money now and it won’t happen in GB, despite REALLY having the talent McCarthy and Thompson expected Finley to consistently exhibit and hasn’t. IF Packers don’t resign Quarless to start–look for Brandon Bostick to get starting not, at least one TE pick in draft and maybe an UDFA or street FA at a cheap price for camp.

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  10. I would think we would be better off signing a “healthy” free agent than giving the same amount of money to a risky injured one. being out of football for an extended amount of time can take it’s toll also. we have enough injured returnee’s that we don’t need to add to the list.

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  11. zack says:

    Offer shields a performance based contract… He has the potential but hasn’t earned a top tier contract so offer him a contract with garaunteed money that matches his level of play 4.5mil a year with huge bonuses based on infield performance. IE 2.5mil for 5 interceptions and another 3 if he gets 7 ints and 2mil for making pro bowl etc. Its fair for all involved.. All NFL contracts should be structured that way btw. WAY underused tool in the NFL. Let him control his own destiny and protect the team at the same time

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