If the Green Bay Packers plan to ask tight end Jermichael Finley to take less money for next season, that topic will apparently be a nonstarter.
“I’d have to walk, for sure, meaning I couldn’t take a pay cut,” Finley told ESPN. “Maybe I’d restructure if it’s a deal that I like and it makes sense, but I’m not the guy that’s just going to sign anything and let anything pass. I’m not that guy. Other than that, taking a pay cut or restructuring doesn’t sound good to me at this time. I like my deal.”
With Finley due to earn a $3 million roster bonus in late March, the Packers now have less than one month to make a decision on the 25-year-old tight end. Finley signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Green Bay last offseason, so he’s currently scheduled to be a free agent after the 2013 season. In addition to his roster bonus, Finley’s base salary for next season is $4.5 million, along with other bonuses that can be earned.
During the NFL Scouting Combine, coach Mike McCarthy offered a glowing endorsement for Finley.
“I was very pleased with the way he finished the year,” McCarthy said. “When you look at Jermichael and you go on the other side of the ball or you talk to any of the defensive guys that played against him, he’s a matchup challenge for defenses. I think his best routes are when we’re attacking the middle of the field with him. I think he’s unique that way. Big target, excellent in the red zone. I thought he played much better with the ball in his hand after the catch.
“I think it was clearly his best year. I was very pleased with the way Jermichael played there in the second half and he improved a number of different areas of his game.”
McCarthy was similarly complimentary of Finley at the end of the season.
“I really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, a different player from the bye week on,” McCarthy said in mid-January. “There was a change in that young man.”
Finley’s salary is quite steep, though, which is part of the reason his contract could become an issue. The Packers still have to make a decision on whether to re-sign wide receiver Greg Jennings, place the franchise tag on him or let the 29-year-old walk in free agency. Plus, outside linebacker Clay Matthews and nose tackle B.J. Raji are both entering the final years of their contracts, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers remains very underpaid with two years left on his deal.
The latest comments from Finley indicate that he isn’t willing to make less money to help the team re-sign Rodgers, Matthews and Raji.
“I’m more inspired than ever to start next season off right and be the tight end I know I can be,” Finley said. “It’s all business at the end of the day. I just love what I do.”
Finley became the Packers’ all-time leader in receptions from the tight end position in 2012 with 61 catches. But Finley’s 667 receiving yards were fewer than he had in 2011 and 2009, and he caught only two touchdown passes after catching eight touchdowns a year earlier.