Should the Miami Dolphins Target Jermichael Finley?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IFebruary 12, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 2: Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after catching a pass for a first down against the Minnesota Vikings during the game at Lambeau Field on December 2, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers won 23-14. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins used a sixth-round draft pick on tight end Charles Clay in 2011 and a third-round pick on tight end Michael Egnew in 2012, yet they could still justifiably add another tight end in 2013.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the Dolphins could pursue tight end Jermichael Finley, "whether via trade or signing should he become available as expected." La Canfora had previously listed Finley as a potential salary cap casualty due to the $3.5 million roster bonus he 's set to receive this offseason in addition to his $4.4 million salary for 2013.

Finley himself put his odds at "50/50" to return to the Packers (per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

The Packers signed Finley to a two-year, $14 million deal in 2012. The negotiation began with the team putting the franchise tag on the tight end while the two sides determined whether he should be paid more like a wide receiver or a tight end.  

They eventually agreed to a happy medium, but now it seems the two sides are not as happy as they once were with the arrangement.

There is little doubt about Finley's athletic capabilities; he has reeled in 207 passes for 2,662 yards and 16 touchdowns over the past four seasons (regular and postseason combined).

One area where Finley has struggled, especially recently, is drops. He had 12 regular-season drops in 2011, the most for any tight end, and added two more in the Packers' droptastic 37-20 playoff loss to the Giants. He has dropped 15.5 percent of catchable balls thrown in his direction since 2011.

Despite the drops, Finley has still caught 65.1 percent of the passes thrown in his direction, which is only slightly lower than Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' 67.7 completion percentage in the past two seasons.

He may certainly be better than both of Miami's current options at tight end. Anthony Fasano has been ultra-reliable, missing just four games in his five years with the Dolphins. He is the anti-Finley in that he didn't drop a single pass all season on 66 targets and dropped just one pass on 45 targets in 2011.

Fasano, however, is set to become a free agent this offseason and Finley's drop rate is actually better than Charles Clay's (nine drops and 34 receptions, drop rate of 20.9 percent on catchable balls) over the past two seasons.

Michael Egnew, meanwhile, couldn't even get on the field until Weeks 16 and 17, earning 25 snaps combined in those two games.

With all that said, if Finley becomes available, the Dolphins should certainly pursue a player of his physical talents—if it's at the right price to account for his injuries, dropitis and attitude problem.

But will they? Bleacher Report NFC North lead writer Andrew Garda told me why Finley fell out of favor in Green Bay and what he can offer to a team:

Finley is a tremendously athletic, fast and strong tight end who has had a lot of trouble catching the ball the last few years. He did improve from 2011 (where he caught 54 percent of targets) to 2012 (64 percent), but saw a tremendous downturn in red-zone production and touchdowns. He also is a very half-hearted blocker, whiffing on a few where it really seemed as though he didn't think he was supposed to block.

If someone could get him to stay healthy and consistent, a fresh situation could be just the thing to help him finally reach the promise he showed glimpses of in 2009 and 2011.

The downside is, as mentioned before, the health and the drops. Also, he definitely has an attitude. His comments about lacking chemistry with Aaron Rodgers coupled with his agent's potshots at the quarterback point to a player who often sees anyone but himself as the problem. Yes, he distanced himself from his agent's insane Twitter ramblings and, yes, he's said he needs to do better, but all too often he comes across as saying 'it's not my fault.'

If the Packers decide to part ways with him, it's likely they just finally got tired of it.

Much like we discussed with regards to Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin has intimate experience working with Finley. Philbin should know better than anyone what to expect from Finley and whether his problems are correctable or simply part of the package.

Philbin should also have a good read on Finley's character, which could be the biggest concern considering how the team has dealt with players who have character issues (trading both wide receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Vontae Davis). 

For that reason, the Dolphins may not pursue Finley.

Even if he does come with the promise of improving the team's performance on the field, the Dolphins are committed to building a classy organization that represents the team well off the field as well.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.