Jermichael Finley

The Green Bay Packers took care of their biggest free agent priority Wednesday, re-signing tight end Jermichael Finley to a two-year deal worth $15 million.

Finley confirmed the signing on Twitter.

It’s TRUE! Thank you so much to the Packers organization, all of my fans, and my beautiful wife. Happy Bday. Let’s GO Packers!! Back soon…

I could not be happier to have the privilege of being a Packer for the next 2 yrs. Glad to be back with my team & coaches for 1 common goal

The average of $7.5 million in yearly salary is higher than the franchise tag for tight ends, which is $5.5 million. Had the Packers not been able to re-sign Finley, they were expected to use the franchise tag. Some were arguing Finley would have sought the tag for wide receivers, which is $9.4 million, because he lines up wide more often than he does as a tight end.

Of course, he doesn’t put up No. 1 wide receiver numbers. In 2011, which most would consider a season of unfulfilled promise, Finley caught 55 balls for 767 yards and eight touchdowns.

Finley’s deal has a greater yearly average than those of the two big tight end contracts signed last year — Seattle’s Zach Miller and San Francisco’s Vernon Davis — but lacks the long-term security. Miller’s deal was for five years and $37 million, an average of $6.8 million per season, and Davis’ was for five years and $37 million, an average of $7.4 million.

Finley obviously figures he can cash in with an even bigger deal in two seasons, while the Packers look content to see if their tight end continues to develop. Finley was inconsistent to say the least in 2011 and has often been a locker room distraction. Plus, the Packers have four other tight ends on the roster, two of which — Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams — possess a similar skill set to Finley.

It’s conceivable the Packers will be ready to move on with another young tight end in two years if Finley doesn’t develop into the superstar he promised he would.

In the meantime, the team knows they’ll return one of their top offensive weapons and can turn their attention to re-signing center Scott Wells.

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