As free agency nears, Jermichael Finley and his agent remain hopeful the tight end will be cleared to play football again relatively soon.

Joseph Maroon, the neurosurgeon who performed surgery on the Green Bay Packers tight end’s bruised spine, informed them that there’s a “99.9%” chance the fusion will fully heal. At that point, agent Blake Baratz said this week, Maroon would clear Finley for “full football activity.”

Considering Maroon is a Pittsburgh Steelers' team physician, that'd be one potential green light Finley hopes turns into more across the league.

Anyone who has followed Finley on Twitter knows the unrestricted free agent is dead-set on playing football again. Finley originally suffered the spinal contusion in Green Bay's 31-13 win over Cleveland on Oct. 20 and then had his vertebrae fused. As Baratz says, “This isn’t a reckless stab at wanting to play football again.”

“He wants to play because this is his livelihood and what he has worked so hard for his entire life,” he said. “He’s only 26 years old and isn't ready for the next chapter of his life yet. If that decision is forced upon him, then he understands. We adjust and we move forward. He’s working out and rehabbing almost six hours per day with a group of experts to ensure that he stays in the best shape possible.”

The healing process — the time it takes for the bones to fully fuse together — varies.

“In some players, it takes four weeks while in others in can six months or longer,” Baratz said. “In Jermichael's case because of how he has developed and (how) his initial X-Ray looked, Dr. Maroon believes sometime in the next 4-8 weeks his should fully heal.”

Which would be very convenient considering free agency begins March 11.

If Finley is cleared and teams are comfortable with him physically — which would be a team-by-team preference — Baratz expects an active market.