It may be a stretch to dub this June the month of the tight end, but the position will be at the center of a number of major stories over the next few weeks. Vernon Davis is skipping the 49ers’ OTAs in hopes of landing a new contract; Jimmy Graham‘s franchise tag position is a point of contention that will be decided by an arbitrator after a hearing later this month; and Jermichael Finley is the best free agent still on the market, in the estimation of PFR readers.
With June 1 behind us, free agents are no longer tied to future compensatory draft picks, and Finley has now been medically cleared by his personal doctor. That doesn’t mean that he’ll be subsequently cleared by every NFL team doctor, but he appears to be on the road to recovery after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, and there are few roadblocks left for him to ink a new deal.
Of course, just because he’s getting healthy, that doesn’t mean Finley is a lock to return to the field. While we do expect the tight end to sign somewhere, agent Blake Baratz confirmed last week that his client could file for the collection of a $10MM insurance policy if he opts not continue his playing career. If the offers Finley receives are modest one- or two-year proposals, that insurance policy could start to look awfully appealing, particularly since it would come with no further health risks.
Still, Finley has been a productive pass-catcher when he’s been healthy, accumulating 223 receptions for 2,785 yards and 20 touchdowns in 70 career contests. At age 27, he still should have plenty left in the tank, and a good season in the right situation could increase his value and help him land a bigger contract next year — perhaps one that would ensure his career earnings eventually exceed that $10MM insurance policy.
Assuming he does return, Finley seems to have a handful of possible landing spots. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported earlier this week that “a good half-dozen teams” were quietly pursuing the former Packer, and while the Seahawks are reportedly out of the running, several clubs are still believed to have interest. The Steelers and Raiders were the latest potential suitors added to a list that already included the Patriots and Packers. And while they haven’t necessarily been connected to Finley recently (or at all), I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Giants or Falcons entering the mix, since both teams could use a pass-catching tight end.
What do you think? Where will Finley eventually land?