Maybe it was the thought of Jermichael Finley possibly being categorized as a wide receiver for the purposes of contract negotiations, a move that would have increased the cost of a franchise tag by about $4 million for the Packers.
Or maybe it was Finley realizing that with each drop near the end of this season his value declined, so securing a slightly longer deal before he slid further down that slippery slope became necessary to get the required hours of nightly beauty sleep.
Either way, Finley is in Green Bay now for the next two years.
One of the few major pending free agents on Green Bay’s roster, Finley agreed to a two-year deal Wednesday night worth $15 million. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and later confirmed by Finley on his Twitter account.
At $7.5 million annually, the deal is only worth about $2 million more than what Finley would have received as a tight end under the franchise designation ($5.4 million). That minimal number combined with his frequent drops didn’t give Finley much leverage in a push for a far greater pay day, and a longer commitment.
In a league where the tight end’s presence is rapidly growing, holding on to a player who had 767 receiving yards and eight touchdowns became an increased priority if it could be accomplished at such a low figure, and there was little reason for Green Bay to budge much beyond Finley’s tag value. But a reason surfaced, and it centered around the designation of Finley’s, um, designation.
A study by Pro Football Focus outlined a contractual obligation due to Finley’s official position under a franchise tag, an obligation to pay more money that the Packers brass were no doubt well aware of during negotiations. In short, since Finley was aligned as a wide receiver for 60 percent of his offensive snaps in 2011, he had a legitimate argument to be classified as a wideout for the purposes of a tag under the new CBA.
The Packers knew this, and Finley knew he was set to gain some leverage back, and would be worth $9.4 million as a tagged WR instead of $5.4 as a tight end.
That likely led to the compromise and split right down the middle. Now the Packers have their promising 25-year-old
wide receiver tight end for two more years, and Finley gets a chance to keep growing into his upside, cure his case of the dropsies, and earn a more lucrative contract.