Could Jermichael Finley be the missing piece to the Atlanta Falcons’ offense?


The Falcons’ tight end position is one in a state of flux. With the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, all the Falcons currently have on their roster is the untested Levine Toilolo, the block-first Bear Pascoe, the unknown Mickey Shuler, and the undrafted Jacob Pedersen — not exactly a group that has opponents losing sleep at night.

What the Falcons’ offense truly lacks is a tight end that defenses will fear as a receiver; someone who can stretch the seam and bring the “joker” capabilities back to the position. What the Falcons need is someone who can run the deep route like a wide receiver and open up the middle of the field for the other receivers, while also being able to create big plays after a short catch — what the Falcons really need is Jermichael Finley.

Here we see Finley grab a quick pass against the Washington Redskins and turn what should be a three yard gain into a 25 yarder by shaking off three defenders. When was the last time a Falcons tight end could that?

Here is more of Finley’s short-game dominance on display, where he absolutely runs all over the Browns defense.

As you can see, Finley is a wrecking ball in traffic and a threat to score anytime he gets his hands on the ball. But what makes Finley an even more valuable weapon is that fact that he can spilt out wide and catch passes as a wide receiver. Jimmy Graham would be impressed.


Here we see Finley lined up as a receiver on a 3rd and 3.

He runs the slant route to perfection and finds a hole in the Bears defense for a first down.

With the addition of Finley, the Falcons’ tight end group would become about as well rounded as any in the league, and the Falcons offense would benefit tremendously from adding another playmaker of Finley’s caliber. Atlanta’s offense would be nearly unstoppable with Finley, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, and Devin Hester running routes in an empty-back set.

Finley is currently a free agent and hasn’t received much interest on the open market due to his extensive injury history. He’s been medically cleared by some team’s doctors, but not fully cleared by others. Additionally, Finley has a chronic case of the dropsies; seemingly every impact play he makes, he tends to follow up with a dropped pass or a fumble.

Bringing in a talented enigma like Finley would be the classic risk/reward signing, but if the Falcons believe he’s healthy and that he can put his lack of focus behind him, they should be able to sign him to a very reasonable, incentive-laden deal — putting themselves in a position to have one of the most potent offenses in the league.

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  • Michael Aprile

    Finley would help make the Falcons offense uncoverable in my opinion. Follow me on Twitter for more Falcons talk! @RiseUpReader

  • Anonymous

    Good upgrade at tight end

    • Michael Aprile

      considering what they have on the roster, it’d be a huge upgrade if Finley returns to form.

  • John

    Nice idea. I’ll bite

    • Michael Aprile

      glad you agree! I really hope it happens.

  • Jay

    Hey Mr. Michael Aprile, to answer your question regarding whether Jermichael Finley could be the missing piece to the Atlanta Falcons’ offense, as-well-as an answer to Tony Gonsalez replacement, I will deliberately say no. Remember, this is from my sole perspective. For one thing, I don’t think anyone could just show-up right now and replace Tony. Well, because he is the one and only. First of all, I like how you laid-out your prons and cons pertaining to the acquisition of Jermichael. There is nothing wrong with that. However, I was confused when you pointed-out that, “Finley is currently a free agent and hasn’t received much interest on the open market due to his extensive injury history…Additionally, Finley has a chronic case of the dropsies; seemingly every impact play he makes, he tends to follow up with a dropped pass or a fumble.” Come-on now, how is this guy a prime candidate for the position of a tight-end? Then, you went ahead and thrash the up and coming players like Levine Toilolo, Mickey Shuler, Jacob Pedersen and veteran Bear Pascoe, calling them anything but garbage. Now, that is not nice. Besides, that was how the New England Patriots became great today…So also is the Seattle Seahawks using the same system to lean towards the status of a dynasty. I think the Falcons should stay with what they have. Something good or even great may churn-out from good training and patience. The Falcons shouldn’t be sufficient with just a year amendment; rather, the team should be building-up for a brighter future. As a falcon Fan, I want my team to think about rebuilding for the long haul.

    • Michael Aprile

      Hey Jay, thanks for the comment, and I really respect your opinion and appreciate your point of view. I actually didn’t come up with the poll question for this one — I in fact agree with your point that Tony G can’t be replaced. That’s not what I was going for here in this column. I was simply stating the fact that this is an obviously talented guy who’s available for next to nothing at this point; what would the Falcons have to lose by bringing him in on a cheap 1-year deal? If he’s garbage, cut him. If he’s golden, we just found ourselves possibly the steal of free agency.

      As far as the current tight end group, Atlanta doesn’t have a single proven entity there that can be relied upon. Yes, there’s potential there, but adding a guy like Finley would make me feel a lot better about the position if one of our guys go down.