Steelers Reportedly Interested In Tight End Jermichael Finley

Earlier in the offseason, on one of ESPN’s many shows dedicated to football, the topic being discussed was low-cost free agents that could make an impact for some cap-strapped teams. Go figure, one of the subjects was the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Focusing on the offensive side of the ball, the panel suggested that the Steelers could really be aided by the playmaking ability of tight end Jermichael Finley, whose team, the Green Bay Packers, defeated Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl following the 2010 season while he was on injured reserve.

According to Boston Globe writer Ben Volin, as it turns out the Steelers are actually one of several teams monitoring Finley’s health process and are potentially interested in acquiring his services this season.

This is not surprising, given that the neurosurgeon who performed spinal fusion surgery on the tight end last year was none other than Joseph Maroon, one of the Steelers’ own team physicians. According to Maroon, Finley faces a “99.9%” chance that the fusion in his neck will fully heal.

Though Finley is not yet medically cleared, it would seem that the Steelers have an inside track to obtain critical medication information on his long-term prognosis, which could be an advantage in deciding whether or not to sign him.

A former third-round pick, Finley has flashed serious Pro Bowl potential as a receiving tight end. He had 21 receptions for over 300 yards in just five games in 2010 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He played in all 16 games the following season and approached 800 yards with eight touchdowns.

Finley will only turn 27 later this month. As long as his neck ultimately checks out, he could have an active market for his services. The bulk of those offers, however, will likely be of the one-year, low-salary variety, or highly incentivized to insulate the signing team from the risk of serious injury.

While the Steelers may have just re-upped their own Pro Bowl tight end, Heath Miller, for the next three seasons, the fact of the matter is that he isn’t getting any younger, or faster, for that matter. Meanwhile, Matt Spaeth will be turning 31 toward the end of November, and among third tight ends, there really isn’t anybody of note.

Finley’s receiving ability could add a new dimension to the tight end position, which hasn’t had a player with his athleticism in recent memory.

While he is almost strictly a pass-catching tight end, as an occasional option, he could be an asset to this offense by forcing defenses to account for him. He has a history of not playing up to his potential, but on a low-risk contract, he could potentially reap high rewards for his next team.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • RyanW

    I would be ok with him signing a 1-3 year deal that wouldn’t hurt us if we had to release him for any reason. Low risk high reward.

  • dkoy85

    I was glad to see him as a FA. Didnt look into him too much because I thought he’d be more expensive for a position we don’t “need” but if he can be had at a reasonable price I’d be very happy with this signing. Kinda makes you wonder what they have up their sleeve for the draft. Hoping Evans falls to us? Trade back for Benjamin? The offense would, without exageration, be very potent and cover up some of our young D’s mistakes and give the D another year to come together.

  • Mike Sweeney

    Big target, good hands can’t hurt. I’m for it.

  • Toddy Bravo

    Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say there is no TE “of note” behind Spaeth. Paulson isn’t exactly an all-pro, but he’s a former draft pick with upside and some experience in this offense now. He should only improve this year, right?

  • Luke Shabro

    I know I’m jumping the gun but I’d be more than happy with an offense that has Bell, Brown, K. Benjamin, Wheaton, Cotch, Heath and Finley. Maybe I’m just dreaming. I guess I’m more favorable for a WR or TE in the first round because they have a better chance of being a difference maker as a rookie as opposed to our defensive guys that take a while to get the system and/or see the field

  • Paddy

    Paulson has a great baritone voice I hear

  • Steelers12328882

    I hope Paulson never sees the field as a Steeler again. He’s horrible, and showed why last year.

  • Shawn Winbush

    Finley doesn’t have good hands..way too many drops.still a good athlete.

  • Jollyrob68

    He’s not Horrible he just needs to get stronger. He can catch but cant block that good. He really needs to bulk up.

  • Matt Manzo

    Paulson had his chances and I think he failed. I’m up for another chance if he shows up stronger and more focused during training camp, but I think the FO is done with him.

  • GhettoBelligerent

    Agreed. Paulson’s blocking sucks. Haven’t seen enough Pack games to know anything about Finley’s blocking, but it has to be better.

  • Matt Manzo

    Could be good experiment? If proves healthy and durable he could be Millers replacement and we could still target a TE early next year to replace Spaeth?

  • tim

    Why why WHY are we looking at hurt Vets? Didn’t we just bring in FS from uh, Detroit or somewhere to look at too? We can get a TE 1st rd then, at LEAST the rookie on Offense WILL play games and we’d have a great 3 TE set if need be……but noooooooo, we’ll draft a defensive player who will BARELY touch the field! Draft someone 1st rd who will be given a chance to actually play meaningful snaps and make a actual contribution, unlike a defensive guy who can get drafted in the first-round and not make a meaningful contribution until year two or three!


    All I know is he sucked on my fantasy team a couple years ago.

  • dkoy85

    First, did you read the article on his injury status? Second, why not get a proven talent through FA at a good price and allow us to draft a defensive player first round that could ACTUALLY contribute the first year, being first round talent and not having a line of veterans to play behind. I really think this and drafting FS could be a good move and allow us to take CB and WR first and second round rather than draft a position that isnt of need.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t personally project him making the roster this year. I believe the Steelers will sign either David Johnson or Michael Palmer–perhaps both–and either one or both of them will be ahead of him in the pecking order. Johnson was the second tight end until he was injured. Palmer leapfrogged Paulson by the end of the season. I just don’t have faith that Paulson will ever become sufficient enough at blocking to merit the faith.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I doubt the Steelers would be interested in him in anything more than a low-risk contract. And I doubt it would influence their draft plans either.

  • dkoy85

    Picking him up could drastically change their draft plans. However, one thing is for sure theyre not going to overpay.

  • HiVul

    Alex’s mock draft has us taking Eric Ebron in the first round, which I would be overjoyed about. But do you say that it wouldn’t influence draft plans because you don’t think they’re even considering Ebron, or because they would draft Ebron even if they signed Finley to some kind of one year deal? I just don’t see them doing both personally

  • Aric Brown

    I have to wonder what the Steelers level of interest would be in Darren Sproles if he does (as expected) get released. They’ve longed for this type of back for several years now… Chris Rainey did not work out and LaRod Stevens Howling blew his knee out… .. Neither could hold a candle to Sproles….what are your thoughts on Darren Sproles playing for the REAL black and gold?… I for one, am extremely intrigued.

  • sean mcmartin

    I’m also hoping The Steelers pick the best player who can Play this season. An offensive player might be the ticket. And then my other take is the SB. Seattle handled the record setting offense with “D”
    Like the moves the Steelers have made so far..keeping the faith..

  • Matt Manzo

    I think they’re looking cuz of their ages. Both are still young, but their injuries are major.

  • Josh Knepshield

    I wish he would have dropped a couple in the Super Bowl. Lol

  • Louis Goetz

    The Steelers aren’t the Washington Redskins or the Miami Dolphins or even the Patriots as of late, who are looking to fix their deficiencies in a rush by taking others’ free agents. They’re simply looking at guys who can come in and play a role. They have a decent track record, too. Just look at Jericho Cotchery.

  • alex

    we would all love to have the human waterbug, but at what price? he will be 31 this year, hmmmm>>>

    also, Finleys last contract was 2/$14M, with a successful fused neck, like Manning, he could still be expensive…not 7 but, still…

  • Matthew Marczi

    Could, yes, but it doesn’t have to. They may have given Miller another two years, but this could easily still be his last, and they’re not averse to carrying four tight ends, as they did in 2013.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I probably should have said “wouldn’t necessarily” change their draft plans, but as to your point, no, I don’t think signing Finley, if they are even truly interested in doing so, would preclude them from drafting Ebron. As I mentioned in my reply to the poster above, Miller’s last two years are very fungible. The extension was offered primarily for cap purposes, and doesn’t preclude the team from releasing him next year. Additionally, if they were to even sign Finley, there’s a high probability it would just be a one-year contract, and he could well follow that up with a bigger offer from another team in 2015.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Sounds weird…If true this to me is an odd choice.

  • gene mann

    If healthy and we can sign him that would eliminate drafting a TE

  • steelster

    spend the money elsewhere in fa we have too many needs.

  • tim

    JC was an EASY choice st the time..but look at before him….L Pope was a bum! We dont really sign alot of FA true and its because of this….injuries. id rather draft the same type of him but with betta hands and younger….theres st least 4 TE’s that can play right away in this years draft.

  • tim

    If it WAS a low risk, high rewardrewardm contract then maybe but with ALL the talent at TE in the draft id be happy with C.J. from Iowa or kid from Washington…both WILL play on Sundays for a while! Both are good pass catchers AND blockers already…so ” F” an injured vet. … ya $20 we dont take him..

  • tim

    So if THAT’S the case, one and done of him then I doubt they will bring him in, tell him all their secrets then let him walk? I dont see that happening.

  • tim

    When was the last time we had a rookie start on our “D” every game? It was Kendrell Bell a longggggggg time ago so they would play but most likely NOT alot of plays so HOW doesbthat help us? At least a TE would play ALOT and have a chance at a meaningful contribution!

  • tim

    Soooooo….we take two defensive players 1st rd who will play mostly special teams year 1, sign a beat up TE and a WR who COULD contribute year 1 IF he gets it…..4 players and you are getting help from ONE most likely in year one…draft a TE and a WR then two on D, we STILL get quality in first two picks and second two picks….everyone wanted to get younger well here ya go…

  • dkoy85

    I don’t think I made myself clear. I’d be happy if they came out of the draft with Ebron, but not as happy as if they came out with one of tue top corners, or Evans/Benjamin , or even DE. The reason is that it is not as important this year. Finley is there and could possibly be signed for 3 years who does not have an injury history like calf issues or bicep issues, and they could possibly get him on the cheap and have huge rewards. The contract the Steelers would sign with him would be a low risk/high rewards contract. That eliminates taking TE with the first rd pick.

    Stop it with the defensive rookies dont get playing time. We had two starting last year and one getting good playing time until he got hurt. They proved that when theres a position of need and wide open the could contirubute. There ARE 2 or 3 CBs at the top of the draft who could step in and contibute right away and possibly start. Tall WRs are deep this year and could develop and contiribute this year in a big way behind Brown, Wheaton, and Cotchery. I certainly would not be opposed to them grabbing Finley and then drafting Benjamin or Evans in the first. The O would take a major step forward.

  • tim

    They may play, and did last year because of what….injuries that’s why they played and even started otherwise history shows this wouldn’t have happened……..we were 8-8 and playing rookies……we arent Jacksonville, we’re the Steelers so 8-8 dont cut it…

  • tim

    Not one rookie has ever started for LeBeau but NOW all of a sudden theres 3 CB’s who can start for him? Uhhhhhhhh no….they MAY get some snaps but come on man…history shows a pretty good pattern of how the bring rookies along.

  • dkoy85

    I’m not arguing 8-8 do not (doesn’t) cut it. I’m also not arguing the rookie defensive players will start. Not many rookies start on the Steelers on both offense or defense. Maybe you’re enamored with the idea of drafting an NFL ready TE early in the draft while currently we do not need one and I believe Miller will play and start 2015. But there are 3 to 4 positions Id rather see them draft. Basically, I said there is a chance Gilbert or Dennard could come in day one and start opposite Allen BECAUSE Gay is not a starting caliber corner and a very talented first round corner will be able to come in and contribute day one and possibly beat out gay. Look at Shark. He played a solid role early in the season until he got injured and he sat behind Clark and Polamalu who were a feared safety tandom- Gay and Allen are not so youd be foolish to think a 1st round CB wont contribute in a solid role year one. This is not the Lebeau defenses of past where we had pro bowlers waiting to take over for veterans. This is a defense that is getting young and inexperienced so a talented rookie will be able to contibute.

    Its all situational. You have to look at it that way. Either way they draft CB with their first pick they are going to expect them to start year two so Id say that is a very significant expectation and there are only a few corners in the draft that are safe bets to do that. TE may or may not be expected to start year two but right now CB is more important. Adding Finley, who is very solid, to an affordable 3 year deal allows them to draft a developmental TE later in the draft. We NEED CB and WR. And they NEED to have the potential to be probowlers and right now it’s a stretch to be able to afford a probowl CB or WR in FA. Either way they need to grab at least one starting caliber player at FS, CB, TE, or WR and reasonably those positions would be FS or TE. I’m not saying they have to add Finley, but IF they do it would be great pick up and save us an early pick for a position of need.

  • tim

    If we draft a CB #1 chances are they will play special teams and possibly the nickel and dime spots IF they can pick up the defense. I believe we DO need a TE and this is why….we have 3 TE’s, 2 of them are 30+ and both came off of injuries last year and our younger guy SUCKS…we get one of the top 3 or 4 TE’s in the draft then se can cut Paulson’s weak ASS and NOW if one of the older guys gets Burt it doesn’t hurt the O quite as much like it did last year. I juse think there will be CB’S with Length later on in the draft but NOT the REALLY good TE’s which I’m tellin’ ya, we are an injury away from a HUGE
    need cuz Paulson aint gonna be the one getting hurt. I just feel a tight end will be more of a contributor and his first year then a cornerback will.history is pretty much on my side

  • Virdin Barzey

    Naaah. I’ll pass on this one. Injury plus drop passes, not a good mix. I would only sign him for a bag of chips otherwise its not worth it. Plus the Taterskins will be in need of a tightend and will overpay for his services.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Finley has (reportedly) had past friction with Aaron Rodgers. That either means he could be potentially toxic in the locker room…or…he may just need a change of scenery and a different group of guys to work with. I’m open to the acquisition in theory, but I plan to temper any expectations prior to OTAs.

  • tim

    Paulson has shown NO upside AT ALL, few catches, terrible blocking….if they have ANY type of TE that is half way decent, he’s gone!