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.