NFL free agency: Jermichael Finley decision perplexes Packers

David Banks

Green Bay has a lot of options with its veteran tight end, but nothing will be easy.

The Green Bay Packers just don't know what to do with tight end Jermichael Finley.

Various Packers personnel are undecided what to do with the tight end who is set to make $8.75 million next season, according to Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel. Some in the front office want to keep a strong, athletic option for Aaron Rodgers. Others just want to let him go.

Sources said the Packers were determined to dump Finley when his play at midseason was erratic, if not aimless. But sources also said Thompson wouldn't make that decision until the bitter end, and when Finley played well as a receiver (he was a poor run blocker) the Packers are said to be re-examining all their options.

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One of those options is restructuring his contract to give some relief to the 2013 salary cap. Finley ranks second to Zach Miller of the Seattle Seahawks in terms of cap hit, so spending so much on the tight end position might be a tough sell for the front office.

Given Finley's importance to the offense, especially if Jennings leaves, Green Bay should attempt to bring him back but potentially on a deal that brings him closer to the cap hit of an Owen Daniels, which is around $5.75 million.

If the Packers cut Finley, his worth on the open market is a question mark. Without many talented tight ends on this market this year, he could once again earn somewhere in the $8 million range:

A high-ranking personnel man for another AFC team said Finley wouldn't attract offers averaging more than $3 to $4 million. But it's a thin year for UFA tight ends, and perhaps a team such as the Chicago Bears might get Finley back in the $8 million-per-year range with a blockbuster offer.

"He played well for like four games this year," the scout said. "You can't trust the dude. He's selfish."

With a questionable work ethic, the Packers are in a tough spot with Finley's $8.75 million cap hit. It's the second-highest mark on the team next season behind Aaron Rodgers. Finley, though, has said he wants to remain a Packer forever.

While the team debates Finley and Greg Jennings, who is likely to get the franchise tag, the team would also like to lock up Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews for a long time.

Finley played in all 16 games for the Packers this season, catching 61 passes for 667 yards and two touchdowns. In 2011, Finley had his best season. He hauled in 767 yards and eight touchdowns in 16 games.

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