PHOENIX -- Many of you have wondered if the Green Bay Packers are more likely to keep tight end Jermichael Finley on their roster after losing receiver Greg Jennings via free agency. My response: If we're taking our cues from coach Mike McCarthy, there has never been a big likelihood that Finley could be released in the first place.
We discussed this topic once before, but it's worth revisiting after McCarthy not only reiterated his excitement about Finley's future but also acknowledged he has spent time this offseason contemplating how he is used in the Packers' complex passing offense. Asked if he thought Jennings' departure would give him opportunities to use Finley in different ways, McCarthy said: "No, maybe not as many."
Referring to one of his core coaching philosophies -- "less volume, more creativity" -- McCarthy suggested it might be time to unburden Finley from a schematic perspective.
"I don't really want to get into that right now because I haven't shared it with the team," McCarthy said. "[But] you have to watch that you don't do too much. That's an easy trap to fall into in this league."
I'm not sure exactly what McCarthy was referring to but can pass this information along: According to Pro Football Focus, Finley lined up as an in-line tight end on 52.7 percent of his snaps last season. He was split out on 41.7 percent and in the backfield on 5.6 percent.
Of Finley himself, McCarthy said: "Jermichael is still young. I think Jermichael has grown up a lot. I think he has a lot of growing up to do. You step back, it’s rewarding to see what he’s accomplished, but also it's because he has so much in front of him. On the field and off the field."
I guess McCarthy's confidence could be based on the Packers' assessment of where the free agent market will be when Finley's roster bonus of about $3 million is due. Finley has said he would not accept a cut from his scheduled $8.25 million in 2013 compensation, but if the Packers propose a cut, his salary could still be bigger than what he would find in a "prove-it" deal elsewhere via free agency. More to come on that, I'm sure.