Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley did something peculiar this week. Something so unheard of in the NFL these days, so rare, that you almost want to challenge his sincerity because it goes against everything we’ve learned about professional athletes over the last few decades.
Finley told reporters on Monday that he wanted to stay with the Packers regardless of whether or not his team opts to use the ever-dreaded “franchise tag” on him.
“I want to stay here, no doubt,” Finley said. “This is a town, this is a team, (an) organization, you couldn’t ask for more. If they came to a conclusion (on a contract), I would look into it. I want to be a Packer for life, for sure. Hands down, I think this is the best organization for me.
“You can’t ask for a better city just because there’s nothing to do, for one thing. I’m going to be real with you, there’s less trouble you can get into. It’s first class in everything they do — contracts, around the building — everything’s first class. I love it. Hands down, I wouldn’t even debate with anyone about it.”
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But, what about the leverage an athlete inevitably gives up by saying he’s willing to do whatever it takes to stay with a team? Won’t these hurt his bottom line?
Probably. Fortunately, there are still some guys left in the sport whose single greatest goal in life isn’t scrambling from one situation to another, mercilessly pumping out big paydays from franchises en route to their next stop
After some rough periods during his short tenure with the Packers, Finley finally appears to be maturing as both a player and a person. Aside from a single frustrated outburst after an unimpressive outing versus the Denver Broncos, the talented youngster has been a model of doing what’s necessary to further the team’s ultimate goals.
Currently, Finley is playing out the last year of his rookie contract. As a fourth-round selection three years ago, up until this year, he never earned more than $470,000 per season. This year his base salary was boosted to $1.2 million – and the only time he ever got anything in between was when he earned a $653,000 signing bonus.
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Even if he were to get the franchise tag Finley said he’d be okay with, he’d likely earn something in the $7 million range. Not a bad pay upgrade.
“If they do that, I’m down with that,” he said. “I ain’t going to be (ticked) off. I just love the game, and I was just blessed to be making money. I’m just taking it all in.”
As it stands, Finley ranks second on the squad in catches with 25, behind only wide receiver and perma-Aaron Rodgers comfort blanket Greg Jennings. He’s also tied for second on the team in touchdown receptions with Jordy Nelson – both players have four.
Despite his obviously having earned a new contract, Finley continues to be the model of patience. While admitting that he’d love to see the contract situation worked out, he’s in no way petitioning for it like other players notoriously have through the years.
“I think that would make me comfortable, make everybody else comfortable,” Finley said. “If they don’t, it’s all good. I’m going to just put Blake to work on it and see what he comes back with.”
Players who puts sense above dollars in today’s NFL?
Turns out they exist after all.