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Franchise tag fight could be coming between Finley, Packers

Green Bay Packers' tight end Jermichael Finley celebrates his touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Chicago Reuters

One of the biggest challenges to maintaining a championship-caliber team comes from the desire of the team’s players to get paid.  In a salary-cap environment, there’s only so much money to go around — and only so many ways to keep a guy from getting elsewhere a contract offer worth more than his skills would merit, based on his ability to flash a Super Bowl ring around the locker room.

For the Packers, the biggest name poised to hit the market in 2012 belongs to tight end Jermichael Finley.  Though Finley isn’t having gigantic numbers, due in part to the fact that the Packers have way too many weapons on offense, the Packers surely want to keep him.  Because Finley plays tight end, the Packers can keep him at a relatively inexpensive franchise tender in the projected range of $5.5 million.

But is Finley a tight end?  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Finley could be planning to argue that he’s a wide receiver.  The argument would be based on the number of plays in which Finley is lined up wide or in the slot at the snap, either via the initial alignment or after going in motion.

It would be a huge difference.  With the projected franchise number for receivers expected to be in the range of $9.5 million, that’s a $4 million gap.

If Finley advances that argument, it won’t be the first time a player and a team have been at odds regarding the position he plays.  In 2008, Terrell Suggs argued that he played more snaps at defensive end, not linebacker.  The Ravens argued he was nevertheless a linebacker.  The situation was resolved with the two sides agreeing to a hybrid label, and a franchise number.

The Packers could try to engineer the situation by keeping Finley tight against the line — thus the name “tight end.”  By continuing to split him out wide, the Packers are inviting an argument that he’s actually a wide receiver.

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38 Responses to “Franchise tag fight could be coming between Finley, Packers”
  1. jcw0646 says: Nov 9, 2011 10:29 AM

    So you think the Packers should keep him in the regular TE position, reducing his effectiveness as a receiver, just to save some money? Madness.

  2. ronin36 says: Nov 9, 2011 10:31 AM

    I hope the Packers sign him. I think it’ll get done around Thanksgiving, or shortly thereafter.

    Personally, I’m stumped the NFLPA didn’t try to get rid of the tagging system. It’d be the last piece of totally free, free agency.

  3. elgaffo says: Nov 9, 2011 10:31 AM

    who cares what position he plays. They have to keep him!! but then again, I guess they cant keep everybody. Ted and Mike will do whats best, and I guess we just have to trust them.

  4. jimmysee says: Nov 9, 2011 10:36 AM

    He did appear on the cover of SI with Aaron Rodgers and the wide receivers!

  5. theslex says: Nov 9, 2011 10:36 AM

    Didn’t this site JUST run a story about how Finley was absolutely O.K. with the Franchise tag because he was blessed to be making any sum of money playing in a city he enjoyed (for it’s lack of distractions) and in such a successful offense? So that theory’s right out the window, now?

  6. test2402 says: Nov 9, 2011 10:37 AM

    What a pickle.

  7. concussionlikesympton says: Nov 9, 2011 10:39 AM

    So the Pack give him a choice.

    Tell him we will not use you as a wideout (where he can gain more yards-make more plays-help his stats) anymore until you drop this phony argument.

  8. ruvelligwebuike says: Nov 9, 2011 10:43 AM

    Whatever happens, I trust Ted Thompson to make the right decision.

  9. arrogantathlete says: Nov 9, 2011 10:46 AM

    Who cares…let him hold out they obviously don’t need him anyway.

  10. jbl429 says: Nov 9, 2011 10:47 AM

    That would be an argument between Murphy and McCarthy, one which McCarthy would probably win. Do you think Mike would change up his offense, which is clearly clicking, just to save a few million next season? That would be fixing something which isn’t broke, and it’s not something McCarthy should be worrying about right now.

  11. darthvincent says: Nov 9, 2011 10:47 AM

    wouldn’t it be easier to just say that the “franchise tag” dollar amount is due to those TE’s that play as WR’s and not the TE’s that make blocks.

  12. cakemixa says: Nov 9, 2011 10:48 AM

    They won it all without him. If he wants to be a diva about it, let him walk.

  13. mvp43 says: Nov 9, 2011 10:53 AM

    The Packers are carrying 5 TE on the roster right now including the current John Mackey award winner DJ Williams. Ultimately I think the Packers plan would be to move Finley to WR to replace Driver and move Williams into the TE slot.

    Damn that team is loaded………

  14. jm91rs says: Nov 9, 2011 11:01 AM

    Don’t you guys ever get tired of writing about what MIGHT MAYBE SOMEDAY happen to a team that’s doing well? Do you get bored when there’s not enough drama and sit around thinking of ways to manufacture it?

    I’m not a packers fan, but it’s not looking like much will de-rail them from another big year. I still follow the site for the news and breaking stories you have, but get so tired of reading about speculation.

  15. The Phantom Stranger says: Nov 9, 2011 11:01 AM

    All of the best tight ends line up all over the place these days. If he thinks lining up wide doesn’t make him a tight end anymore, maybe he isn’t a top-5 tight end. He certainly isn’t a top-5 wide receiver.

  16. fngs1 says: Nov 9, 2011 11:01 AM

    They did win a SB without right?

  17. tcostant says: Nov 9, 2011 11:04 AM

    One of the most under reported stories of the new CBA is the new formula for each position franchise tag. In the past it was the top 5 average salary from the prior year. The new formula is top 5 average salary from the last five years.

    This is a huge difference, I know for QB’s it at least $2M. Not sure about TE, but they are all less.

  18. glac1 says: Nov 9, 2011 11:09 AM

    Both sides want it done and it will in time.

  19. frankgarrett says: Nov 9, 2011 11:23 AM

    wasn’t there a story a few days ago . saying how much he likes GB and how he want’s to stay. He’s staying , So screw you Eagles

  20. nineroutsider says: Nov 9, 2011 11:24 AM

    I am not too worried about the Packers. Whatever they do seems to work out for them. Their GM does a great job and probably has his replacement scouted out…if needed.

  21. 60oldschool says: Nov 9, 2011 11:25 AM

    Clifton and Driver will be gone and come off the books after this year, plenty of money for Finley

  22. cleonslamminsalmon says: Nov 9, 2011 11:47 AM

    Self generated story…I expect nothing less from a Minnesota Lavender Ladies fan.

  23. rodgerthat says: Nov 9, 2011 11:49 AM

    Read the title, this is a journalist point of view for a story, not a factoid. It could be coming. In the event it does it will come after the season, after he is evaluated, after his value is determined. The packers usualy don’t let their own talent walk if they think the guy has value (exception: Cullen Jenkins–that one hurts)

  24. castleofcheese says: Nov 9, 2011 11:49 AM

    Just pay the man. The Packers are currently $7.5 million under the cap. Grant is gone at the end of the year. That frees up another $2.5 million. I love Clifton, but I think he has to go after this year. That’s another $5.25 million in cap space. I hate to say it, but Driver may have to go to, freeing up another $2.6 million in cap space.

    Assuming rotowire’s contract info is accurate, that’s roughly $17.85 million to work with (depending on what the cap moves to next year). Ted should be able to get deals done for both Wells and Finley with that. The trick will be making sure there is enough the following year for Matthews and Raji.

  25. westcoastpackerfan says: Nov 9, 2011 11:56 AM

    I doubt the Packers will have a problem paying Finley the WR Tag. Their WR corps is locked up pretty cheap, and as cheap as the Packers can be, I think they will fork out the cash to keep one of Aaron Rodgers favorite weapons around. I don’t see this ending acrimoniously, they will work it out.

  26. purpleguy says: Nov 9, 2011 12:00 PM

    Seriously, with Aaron Rodgers as the QB, is Finley all that important? He didn’t seem to be last year.

  27. superbowl45champs says: Nov 9, 2011 12:07 PM

    Can’t everyone understand that TE’s and Receiver’s should be lining up to catch passes from A-Rod. The guy can put a football through a speeding cars window at 30 yards! A-Rod makes these guys look good and they don’t even have to get open.

  28. 12greaterthan4 says: Nov 9, 2011 12:14 PM

    Finley will be a packer next year.

  29. MCxShow says: Nov 9, 2011 12:22 PM

    You can never have too many weapons on offense.

  30. paydrt says: Nov 9, 2011 12:26 PM

    Maybe the Packers should pay him a WR salary whose season stat line projects to 60/750/8

  31. Derty Ernie says: Nov 9, 2011 12:52 PM

    Finley will get his money. Here’s why. Ryan Grants best days are behind him. Donald Driver will probably hang it up at the end of this season and I think Woodson will too plus ditto Clifton who’s probably already done. Nick Collins may not be back unfortunately so they will clear a lot of top money players out and have room for newbies and Finley too.

  32. packerstexansfan says: Nov 9, 2011 1:59 PM

    Agree with you Derty Ernie….except for Woodson. This may be his last year at corner, but he still has a couple more years moving to safety.
    As for this post, he’s already said he’s fine with the tag. He loves the game too much to be bogged down by money. If he really meant that when he said it, then I have no doubt that they can easily come out with a number that’ll make both parties happy, or hopefully, a long term deal to keep him a Packer

  33. warvette says: Nov 9, 2011 2:24 PM

    ooh, the packets are scared.. what’s 4 million bucks to a nfl team anymore? except for the bengals?

  34. mike5011ad says: Nov 9, 2011 2:26 PM

    He sure does get a lot of publicity for a 4th year player who barely has 100 career catches. People try and put him in Tony Gonzales or Antonio Gates class, but he just has yet to have a great season. I know they got a lot of weapons in Green Bay, but before you say he’s an All-Pro, he needs to at least catch more than 40 passes in a season, which he’s done only once (55 in 2009).

  35. stavreafavre says: Nov 9, 2011 4:11 PM

    Definitely would be nice to keep him. But the Packers need to watch their pennies because they’re probably going to want to resign that #12 guy, and that most likely won’t come at a discount.

  36. The Phantom Stranger says: Nov 9, 2011 4:52 PM

    Sounds like a schism to me.

  37. tangysizzl says: Nov 9, 2011 5:25 PM

    All I know is this is one of the most unselfish teams I have ever seen. Finley would probably be the only exception on the team but even his selfishness has its bounds.

    Ted Thompson is nothing if not fair. He signs his guys to relatively short term deals so there is no chance the player will become disgruntled over being underpaid down the line. The contracts are fair to both the team and the player and do not contain much fake money if any at all.

    This team is so stacked and set up to succeed for a good long while, players realize that and want to be a part of a great organization and a winning team so they are willing to take a little less just to stick around.

    The Packers will do right by Finley as long as he wants to be there and doesn’t want absolute top dollar at his position.

  38. axespray says: Nov 9, 2011 7:04 PM

    We won it with the whole QB and 4 WR set last year, but having that big huge TE in the middle there helps ALOT!

    The games against chicago without JMike last year, our offense was held to 10 points, then 14 points….

    the game with him back, 27 points.
    Dude is our weapon that keeps ‘em off balance.

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