18

January

McCarthy Makes it Obvious that Packers Want TE Jermichael Finley Back in 2012

If you trust what you were hearing from Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy during his final press conference of the 2011-12 season Wednesday, then you also should have no worries about where tight end Jermichael Finley will playing next season.

He’s not going anywhere.

McCarthy praised Finley on several different occasions, calling him a “talented young man” who has a “great work ethic” and wants to be “a great player.” McCarthy also said that the Packers “need him out there” and that Finley has a lot of room for improvement.

If the Packers head coach had even entertained the thought of letting a 25-year-old tight end walk in free agency, this amount of praise would seem unlikely. McCarthy obviously wants and plans on Finley being a part of the Packers’ roster next season, and I’d say there is a very small chance of the opposite becoming reality.

Finley, who is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, caught 55 passes for 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011. Most had expectations that far exceeded that output this season, but drops and inconsistency plagued him at times. In the Packers’ 37-20 loss to the Giants in the NFC Divisional Round, for example, Finley dropped two passes and had what some have called a miscommunication with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on an important third down play in the second half.  But nonetheless, fans throughout the 2011 season have been hard on the enigmatic tight end.

Packers GM Ted Thompson now has three options with Finley: They can either re-sign him to a multi-year deal, franchise tag him at the tight end position or let him walk in free agency. After three seasons, each option has its pros and cons. But it’s obvious that the risks of letting such an untapped talent like Finley walk at his age far outweigh the cons of both re-signing him long term and the one-year franchise tag at rough $5 to 6 million.

And if you believe what you heard from McCarthy Wednesday, bank on Finley being back on the Packers roster regardless to start next season.

——————

Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.