On the surface, this seems very simple to me: If you can’t beat ‘em, steal their players. And the first player the Bears may be in position to take is tight end Jermichael Finley. Reports suggest that Green Bay may release Finley, who is due a $3 million roster bonus in March. If the Packers release him, they would save $8.25 million.
Now, they could also look to trade Finley, and if they did, it’s highly unlikely they would move him to the division-rival Bears. They could also sign him to a more cap-friendly extension. But if they choose to simply let him go, the TE-starved Bears would be foolish not to try and snap him up.
Yes, Finley had what was, for him, a disappointing season in 2012. Although he caught the most balls of his career last year (61), his yardage total (667) was just his third-best. His average yards per catch were a career-worst 10.9, and his TD production dropped from eight to two. But even those numbers would dwarf what Bears’ tight ends have produced since … well, a long time, if not forever. Last season, Chicago’s leading pass-catching TE was Kellen Davis, who caught 19 balls for 229 yards.
And while Finley will lose concentration at times, dropping some easy passes, he is quick, powerful and agile, and he can make some acrobatic catches.
Look, what better than to not only improve the offense, but also weaken an opponent? The Bears traded their last decent pass-catching TE, Greg Olsen, and the draft’s top two best candidates—Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz—will both be off the board before the team picks in the second round. But if they sign Finley, they can use their first-round selection to improve the offensive line.
Finley is young; he will not turn 26 until March. He will cost a lot, but then again, if the Bears are serious about improving the offense, a move like this would send a strong message to Cutler and the rest of the team that they mean business.
Despite the reports, I don’t know how likely it is that the Packers truly will consider releasing Finley. Perhaps the Bears could get involved in a three-way trade where the Packers don’t know that another team is moving Finley to them. But regardless of how they do it, if the Packers make Finley available, the Bears better do all they can to try and get him.
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