Finley and his agent are likely negotiating with comparables of the top of the tight end market, a range of about $7 million average per year (APY) with up to $20 million guaranteed.
As for the Packers, I would expect them to be slow-playing this negotiation, perhaps in the $4.5 million APY range with guarantees significantly below those of the top contracts.
With the tight end Tag number reduced to a reasonable $5.5 million, the Packers may look to use the Tag here. Negotiations may continue with Finley through the end of the tagging period -- March 5th -- with the Packers using the leverage of the Tag to try to forge a reasonable deal.
The possible use of the Tag on Matt Flynn is certainly an intriguing theory but an unlikely one.
The quarterback Tag number is projected at $14 million. Applying that number to Flynn transfers enormous leverage to the player. Were I Flynn's agent and were he to receive the Tag, I would have him immediately sign the tender guaranteeing him $14 million – $6 million more than Aaron Rodgers is scheduled to make. Even if the Tag amount is just a placeholder for a trade and new contract, the leverage swings hard to Flynn for a strong contract either with the Packers or an acquiring team.
Also, as mentioned above, the Packers would like the leverage of a potential Tag – and reasonable number – for Finley.
Finally, the NFLPA has expressed that the spirit of the Tag -- if not spelled out in writing -- should be to sign, not trade the player (the Matt Cassel “tag and trade” by the Patriots was differentiated by Tom Brady’s rehabilitation from a season-ending injury). Although proof and enforcement may be difficult, the Packers are not a team to test the outer limits of the rules when it comes to the league or union.
The loss of the final game, however unexpected, comes with great finality. The Packers now face a long 2012 offseason ahead, highlighted by these difficult decisions. As always, stay tuned.
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