18

March

Packers Re-Sign RB Starks to Two-Year Deal

James Starks

Starks returns to Green Bay on a two-year deal

The Green Bay Packers have re-signed running back James Starks to a two-year contract.  The news broke last night via ESPN’s Adam Schefter (who else?) and his famous Twitter account.

Starks had just finished a visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he came to terms with the Packers.

Starks was a sixth-round draft pick for Green Bay in 2010.  He was placed on the physically unable to perform list after suffering an injury during training camp.  He made his debut in November of that year and was an instrumental piece to the Packers’ Super Bowl run that season.

Starks has had more than his fair share of injuries throughout his brief career, but when healthy, has proven to be effective in a tandem-type role.

The Packers currently have six running backs under contract:  Starks, Eddie Lacy, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin, Michael Hill and Orwin Smith.  Fullback John Kuhn may also return.  Hill and Smith would seem to be long shots to make the team’s roster this season, barring an injury.

Starks was thought to be on his way out of Green Bay heading into last year’s offseason when he had a strong training camp and pre season and found himself back in green and gold.  He likely faces a similar challenge this offseason, although the multiple year deal would indicate that the Packers probably have Starks in their plans for the 2014 season.

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

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22

February

Green Bay Packers Re-Sign TE Jermichael Finley with Two-Year Deal

According to several reports, the Green Bay Packers avoided any looming franchise tag battle by re-signing free agent tight end Jermichael Finley Wednesday with a two-year, $15 million deal.

Pro Football Talk first reported the agreement per a league source, and Finley confirmed the report through his Twitter account shortly thereafter.

Many have speculated that the Packers would be forced to use the franchise tag on Finley, who at 24 years old looked ready to command a top tight end salary on the open market if he remained unsigned by March 13. It was also widely assumed that Finley would argue for the receiver franchise tag tender, which is about $4 million more than what a tight end would receive from the tag in 2012.

This deal avoids any mess that a franchise tag battle could have created between the two sides.

With a two-year deal at around $7.5 million a year, the Packers might have gotten the best of both worlds.

While the money splits the franchise tag numbers for tight ends and receivers almost down the middle, a two-year deal allows Finley to show the Packers brass that he is worth a longer-term deal down the road. Finley will be just 26 years old when he re-enters free agency again in 2014.

An agreement between the Packers and Finley seemed far apart as recently as late last month, and some opined that no deal would come about between the two sides, especially after an inconsistent and sometimes frustrating 2011 season.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it very clear after the season how big a cog Finley was in the Packers offense.

“He wants to be a great player and thinks he’s going to be a great player. With his talent level, that’s half the battle,” McCarthy said in his final press conference of the season. “I look for him to continuing to develop and establishing himself definitely as one of the (great) tight ends, Pro Bowl tight ends, in this league.”

Finley caught 55 passes for 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011 after missing 11 of the Packers 16 regular season games in 2010 with a knee injury.

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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.