Talking Finley, Flynn and Wells

The most talked about non-event in sports is here, the NFL scouting combine and the Packers got a jump on the headlines Wednesday night, when they came to terms with Jermichael Finley on a two-year deal that will pay #88 $15 million.

By keeping the franchise tag in his back pocket, Ted Thompson can split his time in Indianapolis between watching the draft eligibles run, jump, lift and talk and sidling up to GMs from a few select teams to see if they want Flynn badly enough to trade for him, rather than take their chances in free agency.

Let's start with the Finley deal. This is a solid deal for both sides--give the edge to the Pack. They will pay Finley $5.75 million in 2012, about the same dough as if they'd franchised him. Next year at this time, they will have to pay him a $4.5 million bonus and he'll make a total of $8.25 next season. If they release him before the bonus is due, they don't take a salary cap hit. If he has the kind of season both sides expect, his salary will be in line with a top 5 tight end. And then he'll be in a contract year--either the Pack ponies up for a long-term deal, or he plays the season out in a contract year, motivated to show that he's worth a mega-deal.

Is Finley frustrating? Yes. Both on the field and off. But you can't forget how young he is--he'll turn 25 in March. He will grow up a bit, learn a bit and he has a chance to re-write the record books for tight ends in Titletown, with the MVP as his battery-mate. If he vaults himself into Gronkowki and Graham's stratosphere, he'll get paid.

Now, on to Flynn. Conventional wisdom suggests the Packers won't tag him. For one thing, the team would be on the hook for a $14.4 million salary for their backup QB if Thompson can't find a trade partner. That's substantially more than Rodgers makes. Besides, it's not the kind of move you see Thompson make. The Pack could make it work under the cap (they'd have to cut or re-do deals on Clifton and Driver).

But the only way Thompson does this is if he has an enthusiastic partner: a team that doesn't want to take the chance of being snubbed for another suitor. Many believe the Dolphins will make a strong push for Flynn, to reunite him with Joe Philbin. Let's say another team believes Flynn will head to South Beach unless they swing a deal with the Pack. Then let's say they offer Thompson a second or third round pick and maybe a player. They would have to work with Flynn on a new multi-year deal, because no one in their right minds would pay him $14 million after two career starts. But if Thompson knows he has a trade partner, he'll tag his backup QB in a heartbeat and the Pack's draft will instantly be upgraded. Potential trade partners: Seattle, Cleveland and Washington.

Meanwhile, the news coming out of Green Bay regarding center Scott Wells is less encouraging. Sounds like the sides are heading for a split and that's disappointing. Wells has come so far from where he started: a seventh round pick who hung around but never earned the trust of his coaches to start until he was forced into the spot. He's turned into a Pro Bowler charged with making the calls at the line, with young guards on either side of him. Tagging Wells would cost over $8 million and you can bet Thompson has no interest in slotting that much money into that position.

There will be a number of solid veterans on the free agent market, so Thompson probably believes he can replace Wells inexpensively, or he can look to the draft, maybe in the second or third round. Sounds like Wells has never gotten over the lack of belief in his abilities and is ready to go somewhere where a team will show him the love.

We'll see how it plays out. I hate to see the Pack lose Wells, but I don't think it's something we'll be talking about as next season plays out.


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