If Finley would have been cut, they would have likely pursued another via free agency (Dustin Keller, et al.). Best case scenario, those guys would have signed for $4-5 million a year. Rock stated he thinks Keller is better, but that's subjective. He's smaller (6'2), and still not a good blocker. There were/are some other options out there, but the net gain is likely only $2-4 million in savings AT MOST. The $8 million number sounds like a lot, but in order to have any kind of serviceable replacement, the savings would only be a few million for someone that is arguably equally as talented as Finley with "less potential," and that isn't familiar with the Packers system yet. That's assuming they could even sign those players period, or for anything less than $8 million.
I guess I just don't see it as a big of a deal as others. He's likely to be a bit overpaid this year, and will probably be gone next season as Nerd mentioned; either by not having a very good season or breaking out and pricing himself out of Green Bay. As others have mentioned, with Jennings gone there's a reasonable chance he could earn every penny of that $8 million, especially since it's a contract year. If he does have a great season, the money he's getting paid won't be any issue at all. He caught the Packers in a slightly tough spot, and they have to 'eat' $2-3 million for a season and hope he has a great year (which isn't unrealistic, imo).
Fair enough. Keller didn't perform admirably last year, but he has been a more reliable receiver than Finley in the years before that.
I think that, if you sign someone in free agency, there's more than enough time to get familiar with a system. Players change teams in FA all the time and just contnue producing the next year. If a guy can join the Patriots offense as a WR and completely grasp what Josh McDaniels wants to do in one off-season, I reckon a TE could get our offense figured out and produce.
Maybe you can't build up a chemistry between the QB and receiver that fast, but that's not something I've seen progressing that well between Finley and Rodgers, either.
As for the potential part... The man has been with our team since 2008. He can't get over his problems with drops, maturity and consistency. I was a huge fan of his when he joined us and, for a reasonable price, I'd still give him a chance, but at $8 million, I just don't like the investment.
Right now, I'd rather have a reliable option who doesn't have that much potential. A guy like Martellus Bennett would've been a nice, all-round TE, who's averaging $5 million a year. Not a difference maker, but a good, solid player. But maybe that's more of a personel preference than one you can blame Finley for.
That saves you "just" $3 million, but that is money you could've invested in a player like Adrian Wilson, Bernard Pollard, Antwan Barnes, Kenny Phillips, Leon Washington, Chris Canty etc.
Yes, that's easy to say in hindsight, but the combined contribution of a more afforable TE, who can't be that big of a drop-off from Finley, with one of those players would've helped us more than just Finley alone.
Of course, we still have some money free under our cap, so cutting Finley isn't something we have to do, but even if we just saved up that $3 million, I feel like rolling that over to next year or using it to restructure Matthews and front-load his contract some more would've helped us more than holding on to Jermike.
Lastly, I'll leave you with this. Blegh.Most overvalued tight ends in 2012:
2. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
2012 Cap Hit: $5.2m
2012 Performance Based Value: $1.0m
Value Differential: -$4.2m
Given that only two players at the position had more drops than Finley’s nine and with his 10.8 yards per catch the lowest of his career, it’s not surprising that he finished the regular season as our 47th-ranked tight end. For a player that offers little in terms of blocking, he has to do better as a receiver to avoid making this list next season, as continued unreliability will have Aaron Rodgers, and maybe the Packers this offseason, looking elsewhere.