Thursday, October 6, 2011
The value of Jermichael Finley's presence
By Kevin Seifert
An interesting confluence of business events took place last weekend in Green Bay.
First, receiver Jordy Nelson signed a three-year contract extension, taking another issue off the table as the Packers presumably gear up to address a more difficult deal for tight end Jermichael Finley.
Three of Jermichael Finley's 18 receptions this season have resulted in touchdowns.
Second, Finley was an afterthought in the Packers' 49-point explosion against the Denver Broncos. Facing consistent double teams, he caught three passes for 28 yards and afterward expressed hope that the Packers would find ways for him to beat double teams moving forward.
Typically, NFL players are paid based on their production. But here's a question several of you have posed: Can they be paid based on the production they generate for other players?
I don't want to take anything away from Nelson or receiver Greg Jennings or any of the slew of playmakers who comprise the Packers' offense. Regardless of Finley's presence, they must do their jobs or the production doesn't occur.
But there is no doubt the Broncos' attention to Finley put his teammates in more favorable situations. Whenever an opponent game plans in that manner, it will diminish Finley's chances of putting up the kind of numbers to go along with a top-end contract extension.
Through four games, Finley is on pace for a 936-yard, 12-touchdown season. That in itself is better than any campaign put together by Jacksonville Jaguars Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis, who signed a five-year contract worth $35 million, including $17 million guaranteed, in August.
Of course, a few more games like last Sunday's could diminish Finley's season projection. I asked ESPN/National Football Post business analyst Andrew Brandt if Finley's impact on other players could be a negotiating point in contracts. Brandt suggested there are more to contract negotiations than raw statistics.
"I think both sides know the value he brings," Brandt said.
There are no indications that negotiations have begun, and the Packers will always have the option of applying a franchise tag that was worth $7.3 million last year for tight ends. I presume, but don't know for a fact, that the Packers want to keep Finley long term. If that's the case, this will be a complicated negotiation. But if anything, Sunday's game demonstrated that value isn't always in the numbers.