Jimmy Graham agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract on Wednesday, at age 27.
Fellow tight end Jermichael Finley, also 27, has $10 million waiting for him. It's not $40 million, but it's enough to live comfortably the rest of his life.
All Finley has to do to collect that money is give up football. There's the rub.
Finley, who has spent his entire career with the Green Bay Packers, suffered a serious neck injury against the Cleveland Browns last year. It happened to be the final year of his contract. So he went into free agency with a neck issue that makes it hard for an NFL team to invest heavily in him.
He has a $10 million insurance policy, though. As USA Today's Tom Pelissero detailed, Finley can file a claim on Oct. 20, one year after the injury, if he hasn't played in four games by then.
Again, Finley is just 27. He is in his prime as an athlete and a healthy Finley can help many NFL teams, including the Packers. The insurance money would be great, but it's understandable that Finley isn't ready to give up football yet. It's quite a dilemma, especially considering that if he signs with a team it's unlikely to be anywhere near $10 million, with no guarantee that he'd make that much in future contracts either. And retiring from the game would be the safest thing for him, health-wise.
"Pittsburgh have showed me a couple deals, but we all know the money ain't what it's supposed to be," Finley told USA Today. "If I quit the game right now, I can take tax-free money, and that's a difficult thing that I'm going through with myself …"
Finley is working toward a return. Finley, who had two vertabrae fused after the injury, has more tests scheduled for Wednesday, USA Today said, which he can show to teams to prove his spine is healing. He was cleared in May and he told Pelissero that doctors said it's "99.9 percent" that he'd be more protected and in better shape than he was before his injury.
But nothing in football is safe, and Finley could basically retire, collect $10 million and live a comfortable life. That life, however, would be without the sport he has spent his entire life playing. A lot of work goes into building up a career like Finley has had. Money alone can't make up for giving that up at age 27.
It's a tough choice that almost anyone would struggle with. So what would you do?
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