Though Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley believes there is a "50/50" chance (via ESPN) he is in Green Bay next season, the team needs to make it clear that he is part of their future going forward—and soon.
Finley was plagued by drops and inconsistent play last season, but he still had 61 receptions, the most he has had in one season in his five-year career.
While the Packers may be enticed to trade or release Finley due to the fact it would save them over $8 million dollars in cap money, there are two major reasons Finley needs to be a part of this team.
For starters, there is no other tight end on the team who is going to give you what the big, athletic Finley does.
Aside from Finley, the team got 16 receptions for 271 yards from the tight end position. Tom Crabtree is capable of chipping in a big play here and there, but he would be a big downgrade from Finley if he were inserted into the starting lineup.
Furthermore, the team has already lost wide receiver Donald Driver due to retirement, and Greg Jennings, the team's No. 1 wide receiver for the last several years, doesn't figure to be back. Aaron Rodgers is an excellent quarterback, but that is just too many weapons to lose in one offseason.
Finley will receive a $3 million bonus if he is on the roster in March, more money the team would save if he isn't there. But giving up on a 25-year old player who has averaged 58 receptions and 717 yards over the last two seasons would prove even more costly.
Restructuring his contract to be more cap-friendly would be ideal for Green Bay, but if they can't, they need to pay him what he is due.
Finley's confidence was certainly shaken last season, hence all the drops.
He allowed the boos and the heckling from fans to get inside his head. Making it clear to Finley that he is a big part of the team's future is something that would restore that confidence and allow him to stay in one of the league's top offenses.
Having a player at tight end such as Finley is a luxury many NFL teams wish they had, and for the Packers, the alternative to keeping him in Green Bay is watching him make big plays in another uniform.