Jermichael Finley

We figured it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley would be playing elsewhere in 2014, if he was playing at all.

Well, we may have jumped the gun.

Although Finley had spinal fusion surgery — the exact same surgery that ended safety Nick Collins’ career — he’s vowed to play this year. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he’s optimistic Finley will play in 2014 as well.

“I’m very optimistic Jermichael will be back (playing football), based on my understanding of his situation,” McCarthy said. “I haven’t been involved in a conversation where he’s been compared to Nick Collins. Trust me, Jermichael’s doing everything he can every single day, he loves to train. From my understanding he’s doing very well. I’m hoping to get it worked out and get him back here.”

Ultimately, Finley will have to be cleared by the Packers’ medical staff and then by GM Ted Thompson. Finley’s doctor has already given him the green light.

So then the question is, can the Packers afford to bring Finley back? He’s scheduled to be a free agent and early indicators seemed to suggest Finley is seeking a contract commensurate with the top tight ends in the game.

When he’s healthy he can be one of the top tight ends in the game, but will the Packers be willing to pay him as such when he’s coming off a serious injury? We have our doubts.

In our estimation, the Packers will let the market dictate Finley’s value. If someone wants to throw a bunch of money at him, that likely takes the Packers right out of the picture.

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