Free agency is still more than a month away, but players and teams are already being linked by virtue of natural fit or because word is leaking that there could be something in the works.
In one particular case, Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley is being linked to the New York Giants for both reasons. The fit, considering that the Giants need a tight end and now employ Finley's former position coach as their offensive coordinator, is tremendous.
Then there's word from Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger that Giants safety Antrel Rolle spent some time with the impending unrestricted free agent at the Super Bowl, making a sales pitch in the process.
"He said that he would love to be a part of the Giants,” Rolle said Tuesday. “He was telling me Ben McAdoo is a brain, that he’s going to keep defenses guessing, and he’s very smart."
The 26-year-old Finley comes with some injury baggage, having missed more than half of the 2013 season in Green Bay after undergoing surgery on his spinal cord, but he's still young and has phenomenal ability at a position where the Giants have been looking to gain some stability for half a decade.
The team has used four different starting tight ends in a four-year span, concluding with Brandon Myers in 2013.
Myers has a knack for catching passes, but he was a generally a disappointment in his first year after being signed away from the Oakland Raiders. He's not a reliable blocker and his stock may have been artificially inflated by Oakland's tight-end-friendly offense in a contract year.
|The Giants: Starting tight ends by year|
|Year||Starter||REC||YDS||TD||Run block||Pass block|
|Pro Football Focus|
Myers wouldn't cost much to bring back, but the Giants would be better off using him as a No. 2 tight end. Heck, Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger reports that even Myers' 2013 offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, agreed with that assessment.
If that's the case, he'd make a nice insurance policy for a high-risk/reward signing such as Finley. A down year from Myers and that injury situation for Finley could make both more affordable than they were/would have been a year ago, and the Giants will actually have some money to spend this spring.
Regardless of whether they were to keep Myers on the roster at a cheap price, a short deal for Finley could help Adrien Robinson, who has been somewhat buried during his first two years in the league.
The 25-year-old former fourth-round pick is also a freak athlete. A chance to learn from Finley could be huge.
Of course, the reality is that if McAdoo is going to want to freshen up a stale offense, he'll have to do some new things. That could mean more two-TE sets, which are en vogue league-wide. With Finley, Myers and Robinson, that would become a possibility.
At least McAdoo would be comfortable with a guy he spent four years coaching in Green Bay.
So it all makes sense. Finley is a proven stud at the tight end position who would be well-supported in an evolving offense. He's a playmaker who can work basically as a wideout, but can also block. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), he's given up just one sack in pass protection in four years.
There's just one problem, of course, and that's that Finley would like to stay in Green Bay.
“Right now he is a Packer and I know he would love to play his entire career there,’’ Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, said in an email to the New York Post.
"For the next five weeks or so they have his exclusive negotiation rights. If it doesn’t work out in Green Bay for whatever reason then I believe there are a number of teams that could use a talent like Jermichael."
The Giants definitely qualify there, but we'll have to wait another five weeks to see if it's in the cards.