So, in the minutes after the New England Patriots released tight end Aaron Hernandez, @NateJackson25 asked a question that I couldn't resist: Would you offer Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley to the Patriots for a second-round draft pick, as suggested via Twitter by former Packers safety LeRoy Butler?
The question was juicy enough that I've brought back our beloved "Have at It" post from the days of (blog) yore.
It would be unusual to trade such a prominent player at this point in the NFL calendar, but the Patriots are in a relatively unique situation. In recent years, their offense has run through Hernandez and fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. Now, Hernandez is gone and Gronkowski is a question mark after multiple offseason surgeries.
The Patriots have excelled over the years in transforming their scheme to meet the strengths of their personnel, but it's fair to wonder what their offensive strength is at the moment. In essence, Butler suggests the Packers should try to capitalize on the Patriots' sudden depletion before they have a chance to regroup.
Would the Packers really consider such a trade? Unlikely, but it's worth noting the reasons Butler brought it up in the first place. Finley, as you know, will be the second-highest paid tight end in the NFL this season with a total of $8.25 million in compensation. He is eligible for free agency next winter, and his 2013 paycheck will serve as the baseline for negotiations if he has the kind of season the Packers hope he will.
If Finley has a disappointing season, the Packers might want to start over at the position. Regardless, it's far from a sure thing that Finley's future is secure in Green Bay. A trade, if attractive enough, would maximize return on Finley rather than allow him to depart via free agency. (Compensatory picks, which depend in part on other player movement, top out in the third round.)
It's worth considering that a second-round pick from the Patriots might pretty close to the top of the third, especially if Finley had the kind of impact he is capable of. It's also important to realize the Packers don't have a proven pass-catching tight end behind Finley, let alone someone with his ability to impact defenses before the snap. Andrew Quarless hasn't played since December 2011 because of a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery, and D.J. Williams has nine career catches.
So I'll turn it over to you, as I already have on Twitter. Would you do it? Would you insist on a first-round pick? Is Finley untouchable for 2013? Give me your thoughts in the comments section below or in the mailbag. I'll post a representative sample and provide my own take later this week. Have at It.