The tight end position will be one to watch closely for the Green Bay Packers this offseason. In 2013, the injuries to Jermichael Finley forced Green Bay to basically play tight end by commitee. Finley played just six games and caught only 25 passes. Finley’s backup was Andrew Quarless, who played all sixteen games. Both will be free agents entering this offseason. Other tight ends on the roster are Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner.
While the Packers would hate to lose Finley and his game changing abilities, they might just need to cut the cord. Last season, Finley had the second highest salary on the team ($8.5 million) behind Aaron Rodgers ($12 million). With all his injuries mounting, including a spinal cord injury, Finley might be a luxury the Packers can’t afford. There is a chance we don’t see him in a Packers uniform again.
Quarless showed he is capable of being productive, having two games with 6 catches for 66 yards. But Quarless showed no big play ability and I would expect him to be let go as well because the other three tight ends (Bostick, Taylor, and Stoneburner) all make the minimum.
Speaking of Bostick, he might be the tight end of the future. He is cheap, young (24) and showed a lot last season, especially catching passes downfield. He caught passes of 19, 22, 24, and 26 yards.
A sign that either Finley or Quarless are on their way out came last week when the Packers signed tight end Raymond Webber. Webber converted to tight end from wide receiver, and reportedly runs a 4.5 40 yard dash. Webber hasn’t been able to stick with a team since entering the league in 2011, so he was most likely signed based solely on potential.
Tight end is a viable position in today’s NFL, so expect Green Bay to really take their time with this. An early ESPN mock draft had the Packers taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron in the first round. That could very well be a route the Packers will take, or they may look in free agency. Either way their goal, assuming they don’t keep Finley, will be to find a tight end at less than half the price of Finley, but one who can stay healthy for a full season.