As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on the site, we’ll be following up this year’s big signings with a “what does it all mean?” post. Having given a bit of perspective and insight to last week’s Stanford Routt signing, let’s take a peak at TE Jermichael Finley and what his two-year contract with the Green Bay Packers entails.
Impact on Finley:
Short term, the 24-year old TE avoids a debate over his franchise tag value. Many familiar with the situation felt Finley was going to earn the tag from the Packers, but they wanted to pay him as a TE, while he felt he was used, and should be valued, as a WR. As the new contract is worth nearly $15M over two years, Finley has the security of a two-year contract, more money per year than he would have with the TE tag, and the prospect of hitting the open market at the age of 26. Some may question why he wouldn’t choose to test the waters now, noting the recent contracts of Zach Miller and Vernon Davis, but the TE comes with concerns, as he doesn’t block well, drops too many passes, and has exhibited attitude problems. However, his upside is clear, and he’s betting on himself with this contract, figuring that he’ll put up big numbers with the Packers and cash in with a longer term contract in 2014.
Impact for the Packers:
Most importantly, they lock in a key piece of their scary-good offense. They may not be able to afford Finley in a few years, but they’re built to win now, and they want Finley to keep spreading defenses. The contact has a built in $4.4 million bonus at the start of the second year, so they have a built in escape clause, should they need to use it. Also, the Packers now can use a franchise tag that everyone thought was destined for Finley. Should they choose to use it at all, one intriguing option would be to franchise QB Matt Flynn, who could then be used as trade bait. C Scott Wells could also tagged, though it’s hard to see the Packers spending so much on the position. They could surprise, but we expect them simply not to use their tag.
Impact on the market and draft:
After a massive year for TEs (thanks mainly to Rob Gronkowski), Finley certainly would have found suitors in free agency. This move weakens the free agent market, making Fred Davis the most attractive option, but he’s unlikely to hit the market, meaning teams are looking at John Carlson, Scott Chandler, and Martellus Bennett. This is one position that appears to really lack a big time, big money option, which will in turn provide a slight boost to the draft value of top TE options such as Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, who may now peek into round 1.
Either way you slice it, this signing has clout and signifies a win for everyone except teams weak at the TE position. Stay tuned as we wait to find how, if at all, the Packers will utilize their tag, a move that will certainly reverberate through the league.