The Green Bay Packers could cut Jermichael Finley is he is not willing to take a pay cut.
“I would never just turn my nose up at anything,” Baratz said. “I will listen and hear anybody about anything and withhold judgment until I do. I can’t say today whether I would, whether I wouldn’t, whether it’s in Jermichael’s best interest, his worst interest.
“There’d have to be a reason why he would have to take a pay cut. Maybe he would. Maybe he wouldn’t. It’s all hypothetical until the numbers are there. Is it a one-year deal like it is now? Are we adding years? Are we adding dollars? Are we moving dollars?”
Speculation has run rampant all offseason that the Packers could cut the underwhelming Finley, who represents an $8.75 million cap hit in 2013 (per Spotrac).
It is simply bad timing for Finley, considering the Packers have to begin clearing space to re-up big names such as Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay sounds ready to offer Rodgers a new contract sooner rather than later (per Profootballtalk), and its going to have to be a massive one considering Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco just became the highest paid at the position.
Green Bay began the process of clearing room for the future by releasing long-time Packers favorite Charles Woodson. Finley could be next.
Finley is typically regarded as one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL, and at only 25 years old, he is just entering the prime of his career. The problem is, it is debatable if he has done nothing on or off the field to justify his contract.
Last season was disappointing for Finley at face value. He caught just 61 passes for 667 yards and two touchdowns. With a quarterback in Rodgers who tosses almost 40 touchdowns and had a regular-season rating of 108, Finley's numbers are not good enough.
Digging deeper into Finley's play does not help either. According to ProFootballFocus, he was the No. 47 overall tight end in the league last season on a list that rated 62 at the position.
Finley was rated No. 3 overall in the absolute worst category for a tight end—dropped passes. He dropped nine last season while being targeted a total of 85 times; a horrendous ratio for a man set to make over $8 million.
Earlier in the offseason the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel placed the odds of Finley remaining with the team next season at just 50 percent. The coaching staff wants him back, but those in charge of player personnel decisions may not agree, especially with big contracts needing to be dished out soon.
We'll know Finley's fate by March 27 at the latest.
Finley is due a $3.5 million roster bonus on that date, so if the franchise is set on cutting him, it will happen before then.
The current situation is actually a step up for Finley, who according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, was as good as gone from the team after the end of the season—the franchise was ready to find a suitable trade partner or cut him outright for what McGinn classified as "financial, competitive and behavioral reasons."
At least now the Packers are open to retaining him at a reduced cost. More importantly, his agent plans on listening to the front office as he is paid to do. Whether Finley accepts less money to stick around remains to be seen.
Should the Packers cut Jermichael Finley?
Finley does not have much swinging in his favor at this point. Two years ago, the Packers won a Super Bowl without him. He has never shown signs of beating the inconsistency that has plagued his career, or his sporadic stretches of lackadaisical effort.
Even with Greg Jennings potentially leaving via free agency, Finley would be only the third or fourth option on the offense at best, behind players such as Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson.
That does not sound like a player who deserves to have one of the highest cap numbers on the roster.
Negotiations will commence between the two sides now until the March 27 deadline. Either Finley will take a pay cut or he will be playing for a new franchise next year, because as Jennings is learning, Green Bay is wise with money and takes a no-nonsense approach to its players and future.