Mike Woods column: Packers should let Finley, Jennings walk

8:07 AM, Feb. 26, 2013  |  Comments
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Sunday.
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Taking a spin around the sports world wondering if more people know how Danica Patrick finished in the Daytona 500 than Jimmie Johnson.

News: Reports have stated the Packers are considering placing the franchise tag on free agent receiver Greg Jennings and are also debating whether or not to retain tight end Jermichael Finley.

Views: Placing the franchise tag on Jennings, which would cost the Packers over $10 million and all of it would count against this year's cap, would certainly be out of character and, frankly, unwise.

Jennings is 29 and has been injury prone. You have to wonder how the Packers could possibly believe this is the best way to spend their money.

Just entertaining the idea of retaining Jennings says there is concern about the receiving corps, which was once the strength of this team. If you couple a Jennings exit with a Finley release, the Packers would certainly weaken themselves on offense.

Still, they have three solid receivers in Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones and they certainly have more pressing needs that need to be addressed, namely on defense, the offensive line and running back.

When it comes to Finley, it's quite evident he can't be trusted and you can't depend on him. You add in the fact that his cap number would be the second-highest on the team, behind only quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and you can't justify his salary based on his production.

But do you risk releasing a player whose talent still indicates an upside and come away with nothing in return? Sure they could ask Finley to renegotiate a lower salary, and they could also ask the NFL to host a Super Bowl. Neither is going to happen, which leaves the Packers in a dilemma.

Based on production last season, neither Jennings nor Finley is worth the money. Given the Packers' desire to sign linebacker Clay Matthews and Rodgers for the long term, and given their more pressing areas of need, the smart choice would be to let both Jennings and Finley walk.

News: Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez says Big Ten football teams will no longer schedule FCS opponents, after contracts with such schools run out in 2015. "The non-conference schedule in our league is ridiculous," Alvarez told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's not very appealing."

Views: Hard to believe those words coming from a man who didn't exactly load up his non-conference schedule in his time as head coach of the Badgers, and who allowed his successor Bret Bielema to fill up on cupcakes even more.

But these are desperate times for the once-proud Big Ten, which has been lapped by the SEC in terms of success and prestige. The only hope to get better and raise its profile is through scheduling tougher opponents, which it should have done long ago as a favor to itself and its fans.

The league thought it was better than it was and it wasn't until the cold, harsh reality set in that it decided change was needed. It's in catch-up mode now, but it has no one but itself to blame.

News: Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball has a horrible NFL Combine, finishing the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds (19th out of 33 running backs) and 15 reps at 225 pounds (tied for last).

Views: Ball will get a chance to redeem himself at the Badgers' Pro Day on March 6, but in large part the damage has been done. Any hope he had of being a first-round pick is likely out the door.

On the surface, when you consider 306-pound offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff ran a 4.65 in the 40, you might think Ball may drop on draft boards like a lead balloon.

And this is where NFL personnel often get caught in overthinking a player. Yes, Ball's measurables were bad. That's never good. But can the guy play football? Can he find the end zone? Is he durable? Is he tough? Can he catch it out of the backfield? Does he hang onto the ball? Can he block? Is he just fast, or is he football fast?

Ball would grade out well on almost all of those questions. The combine is important, but the tape is more important. That's where the answers really lie, and Ball can only hope NFL teams rely more on the tape than any kind of tape measurements.

News: The Bucks swing a trade that brings them shooting guard J.J. Redick from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb.

Views: This movie is getting old to say the least. This is just another move that will amount to nothing for a franchise that continues to spin its wheels.

The Bucks are selling this as a push for the playoffs kind of deal. Nice. Who knew they were so desperate to get swept by the Miami Heat?

Redick is a solid player but by no means a difference maker for any franchise. He's a guy who deserves more playing time than Monta Ellis, whose license to chuck it up from anywhere should have been revoked long ago.

Redick is also in a contract year, so his chances of re-signing will greatly depend on what transpires over the next couple of months. If the Bucks were a title contender (it's OK to dream, right?) this kind of rent-a-player move for a decent shooter might make sense. But it makes no sense for a team struggling to just sneak into the playoffs while prematurely giving up on two young talents in Harris and Lamb.

News: Danica Patrick, the Daytona 500 pole sitter, finishes eighth.

Views: As usual, we're getting ahead of ourselves a tad when it comes to Patrick. The overriding theme following the race was she proved she belongs. She certainly did at Daytona, and it may prove to be true in general. But the NASCAR season is 38 races long. Let's check back in October and then we'll have a much better idea if that's true or not.

- Mike Woods: 920-993-1000, ext. 232, or mwoods@postcrescent.com; On Twitter @PCMikeW

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