The Oakland Raiders were expecting a heated competition for the starting tight end job this preseason, but after David Ausberry suffered a knee injury that will require surgery, the position suddenly looks rather sparse. Second year tight end Mychal Rivera has looked good in training camp and is capable of performing as the starter, but there isn’t much behind him.
That is significant considering how much Raiders quarterback Matt Schaub loves to rely on his tight ends (just ask Owen Daniels). While both Rivera and Ausberry were competing to be the starter, it likely wouldn’t have mattered much since the Raiders would have used both of them a large amount. Now, they have primarily blocking tight ends behind Rivera with the exception of undrafted free agent rookie Jake Murphy who may not even make the roster.
So if there is a free agent tight end with pro bowl caliber talents available, the Raiders would have to take a look at him … correct? Maybe, but maybe not. Jermichael Finley fits the bill — even though he hasn’t made it to a Pro Bowl, his skill set is certainly good enough to get him there one day. He had a breakout season in 2011 when he caught 93 balls for 767 yards and 8 touchdowns. His numbers slipped the following year, but were still very impressive for a tight end with 88 catches for 667 yards and 2 touchdowns. Then he got hurt in 2013, missed most of the year and is still trying to prove to everyone that he is healthy enough to risk giving him a big contract.
He has already received an offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers and has seen interest from his former club, the Green Bay Packers, but has chosen to wait and see who else comes knocking on his door. The Raiders showed interest in Finley back in June, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
When discussing why he has not accepted the offer from the Steelers, Finley explained that there simply was not enough money on the table. Given that fact, it seems rather unlikely that the Raiders would sign him. General manager Reggie McKenzie is known for being unwilling to spend a lot of money in free agency. However, he’s familiar with Finley from his time in Green Bay, the Raiders have over $13.2 million in cap space, and if McKenzie is going to spend money on anyone it would likely be someone he knows and is comfortable with.