A short story surfaced on the NFL’s website today stating that Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley could be medically cleared to return to full contact football activities as soon as three to four weeks from now.
The original source of the story was ProFootballTalk.com and Finley told them that his doctors are “99.9% confident” that he will be cleared to resume his football career.
Keep in mind that these are Finley’s doctors that would be giving this clearance, not a NFL team doctor.
We have often heard players say they are fine when they are really injured and that they expect to be back by a certain time, only to wind up on injured reserve. In Finley’s case, I have no doubt that he will get another shot to play in the NFL again. I’m just not sure that will be with the Packers.
Finley will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in March. He has said that he does not intend to offer teams any discounts on his services. Besides the New Orleans Saints’ Jimmy Graham, a truly healthy Finley is the next biggest name on the free agent market at tight end. I would be surprised if Finley’s agent doesn’t get at least one call from an interested team.
In the Packers’ case, they have many pending free agents of their own to look at and evaluate. They obviously won’t bring them all back and they will likely have to part with a few they would like to return. The defensive side of the ball continues to be a need area and that would likely be a deterrent to paying a healthy Finley what he is looking for. But we’re talking about a risky Finley.
When it comes to risks, the Packers don’t mess around. They chose not to return safety Nick Collins when the star safety suffered a similar injury in 2011. Collins was eventually released and has not played in the NFL since. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said that if Collins were his son, he wouldn’t let him return to football. Still, Collins played safety and was a hard-hitting one at that. Perhaps the Packers or another team might feel that the risk is much lessened for the tight end.