With a potential franchise-tag fight over whether he’s a tight end or a receiver looming, Jermichael Finley and the Packers have come to terms on a new contract.
According to a league source, a two-year deal was finalized on Wednesday. The contract has a total value of just under $15 million.
The average value of the deal — $7.5 million — roughly splits the difference between the tight end franchise tender of $5.4 million and the receiver franchise tender of $9.4 million. And it gives Finley another crack at the open market in 2014, when the new TV money will have kicked in and driven up the salary cap.
In light of the new contract, the question of whether Finley is a tight end or a receiver won’t be as significant the next time Finley is due to hit the market. Based on the 2013 cap number in Finley’s deal, a 120-percent increase would put the tender for Finley over $10 million.
The deal also gives the Packers protection against the possibility that Finley’s potential never will fully be fulfilled, due either to injuries or ineffectiveness. Though Finley enjoyed the best season of his career in 2011, he generated only 767 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, and he has no Pro Bowl appearances.
But his unique skills create matchup problems. Too fast to cover with a linebacker and too large to cover with a defensive back, Finley could have the same impact as Rob Gronkowski, if/when Finley puts it all together.
If Finley can do it in the next two years, he’ll be on the verge of free agency again — at a time when Gronkowski will either have been re-signed by the Patriots or limited by the franchise tag.
UPDATE 8:35 p.m. ET: Finley confirms the deal on Twitter. “It’s TRUE!” he writes. “Thank you so much to the Packers organization, all of my fans, and my beautiful wife.”