Saturday, May 31, 2014

Finley or Keller? Pats likely weighing their options


Jermichael Finley or Dustin Keller?

Take your pick New England Patriots fans, because it's very likely the team winds up signing one of them.

The Patriots failed to directly address the tight end position this offseason, which has resulted in their signing three undrafted free agents to beef up the depth behind Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui.

However, Finley and Keller both sit awaiting calls from teams now that they are medically cleared to play in 2014. With a bruised spinal cord in Week 7 and a torn ACL, MCL, PCL and dislocated knee in the preseason, respectively, both of these tight ends come with major red flags.

Regardless, a flyer on one of these players for the right price could be worth it. But which one?

Finley was on his way to another solid season in Green Bay before he went down, compiling 25 catches, 300 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the Packers' first five games. His best season came back in 2011 when he finished with a line of 55 receptions, 767 yards and eight touchdowns.

At 6-foot-5, Finley is more of the prototypical, big-body tight end. Finley made roughly $7 million, a scary number on this side of the neck ailment.

Meanwhile, the former New York Jet Keller has been a pain for the Patriots in the past, and he fits more of the "move" tight end mold.

Keller did not see the field in the regular season in 2013, as his injury came in the preseason. However, if he is healthy, he might be more of what New England is looking for economically. Keller was owed $4.25 million in Miami for his one-year stint, but he'll obviously garner much less than that this year.

The former first-round pick for the Jets already took a visit to Foxborough in early May but left without a contract.

The pick

From this perspective, it's Finley, who if healthy, could provide the same security blanket for Tom Brady that he did for Aaron Rodgers during his six seasons in Green Bay. Finley was rumored to have taken a visit on Friday to a team that wished to remain anonymous. That sounds a lot like something Hoodie-related.

However, I do not see the Patriots, who have $7 million in cap space, writing a fat check to a player coming off a serious injury, which is why Keller is the safer bet. It would be nice to see the big-framed Finley line up with Gronkowski, but right now, money is probably the difference-maker.

It does raise question marks that Keller came and went without a contract, but in the end, I see the sides reaching a cheap one-year deal with the former division rival.

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