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Finley: 'I want to be a Packer for life'

By JASON WILDE

GREEN BAY – An admitted overgrown kid himself, Jermichael Finley was positively giddy Monday afternoon. He couldn’t wait until 4 o’clock, when Halloween trick-or-treating kicked off in De Pere.

“I’m going as Steve Urkel,” the Green Bay Packers tight end announced proudly. “I’m coming to your house.”

A few hours later, Finley and 4-year-old son Kaydon were indeed on the streets of the Green Bay suburb, excitedly on the hunt for their favorite candy, Skittles. And that may have said more about why Finley, set to be a free agent after the season, wants to re-sign with the Packers more than anything he said at his locker earlier in the day.

For while Finley said all the right things – that he wants to be a “Packer for life,” that he’s “down” with accepting the franchise tag – the fact that a 24-year-old budding football superstar was so excited about the local trick-or-treat scene is proof of what he said: That he believes a small town like Green Bay is the perfect fit for him.

“You can’t ask for a better city. There’s nothing to do, for one thing. I’m going to be real with you. There’s less trouble you can get in,” said Finley said, who in the past has compared Green Bay to his tiny hometown of Diboll, Texas. 

“I want to stay here, no doubt. It’s a town, it’s a team, an organization where you couldn’t ask for more. If they can come to a conclusion (on an extension), I’m willing to look into it. On the field and off the field, (it’s the perfect place). I wouldn’t even sit and debate with no one about it.”

Whether that makes Finley more amenable to a deal that doesn’t make him the highest-paid tight end in the league remains to be seen. He enters next Sunday’s game at San Diego with 25 receptions for 334 yards and four touchdowns while playing in the Packers’ spread-the-wealth passing game, but acknowledged that with another team, he could be even more productive by “going solo” and “being a No. 1 target.”

If another team decided to make Finley that player in its offense, he could certainly surpass the contracts of San Francisco's Vernon Davis (six years, $42.705 million, $23 million guaranteed) and San Diego’s Antonio Gates (five years, $36.175 million, $20.4 million guaranteed).

Having watched right guard Josh Sitton (six years, $33.75 million, $8.9 million guaranteed) and wide receiver Jordy Nelson (three years, $13.35 million, $5 million guaranteed) both get new deals since the end of training camp, Finley is the next in line. When it was suggested that Sitton and Nelson might’ve gotten their deals done first because they were viewed by the team as easier to sign, Finley didn’t disagree.

“I’m looking at it like a business decision,” he said. “They hit all the other guys (with extensions), and I guess they’re just going to come to me last because they know my personality and the things they have to deal with.

“We have a special team going here. Hopefully we can stay together through this year, years to come. Hopefully we get blessed with that opportunity. I feel good with this team.”

Asked if he’d prefer to get a deal done before season’s end, Finley replied, “I think that will make me comfortable, make everybody else comfortable. If they don’t, it’s all good.”

Finley said he didn’t know whether or not his agent and the Packers have had any meaningful contract conversations. Finley’s agent, Blake Baratz, did not respond to a message Monday afternoon, while Packers general manager Ted Thompson and vice president Russ Ball, the team’s chief contract negotiator, do not speak about contract matters with the media.

“I don’t know if they’re talking right now or not. I don’t know what’s going on, to tell you the truth. I’m out of the loop,” Finley said. “It’s all a business decision. Whatever Ted or whoever makes the decision, I’m good with it.”

And, according to Finley, that includes accepting the franchise tag. This year, the one-year franchise tender for tight ends was worth $7.3 million, and it figures to go up next year.

“If they do that, I’m down with that. I’m not going to be pissed off about none of this right here. I just love the game,” Finley said. “I was just blessed to be making money to be doing this. I’m just taking it all in.

“I want to be a Packer for life, for sure. Hands down.”

Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.

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