Over the course of the next several days Cheesehead TV will have a brief position-by-position offseason preview, taking a look at what's in store for the Green Bay Packers in free agency and the NFL Draft..
Jordy Nelson was everything the Packers could have hoped for in 2013 with only an injury to Aaron Rodgers keeping him from being more effective.
Solidifiying his deep-threat status, Nelson the NFL in catches over 20 yards. But that's not to suggest he's strictly a deep-threat. Nelson is a well-rounded receiver with evidence pointing to his production from the slot this past season when Randall Cobb went down to injury.
Speaking of Cobb, an unfortunate broken leg prevented him from having more of an impact in 2013 but was effective both before and after the injury.
When healthy, Cobb is one of the most versatile players in the NFL as a receiver, running back, return specialist and even emergency quarterback.
Both Cobb and Nelson have contracts expiring after next season, and being two of the team's most important players, it makes sense that the Packers would want to extend both of them before the start of the 2014 season.
Nelson, in particular, has been seriously underpaid for the past three season relative to his production ($3.15 million per season on average). Expect the Packers to show their gratitude to Nelson by giving him a generous extension sooner rather than later, and Cobb may not be far behind.
James Jones was also limited by injury in 2013, suffering what was reported as a knee sprain that kept him from missing two full games and slowed him down even upon return.
It was a steep drop for Jones in touchdown department after leading the NFL with 14 receiving scores in 2012, down to three this past season. Still, he's probably in the running for the best No. 3 receiver in the NFL. He'll be a free agent and it's a tough call whether to say he'll be back in Green Bay or not.
Jarrett Boykin emerged as a young player on the rise after making 49 receptions this past season despite not making any in the first four games. There's reason to believe he could replace Jones if he departs in free agency.
Myles White, Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett and Sederrick Cunningham will all receive an opportunity to prove themselves in the offseason. It's very possible that not all five of them will survive until training camp.
Long-Range Free Agency Outlook
James Jones––In 2011, Jones expected to find more traction on the free-agent market, got almost nil, and returned to Green Bay on a modest contract.
In those three intervening years, Jones has been a productive receiver, but being three years older (currently 29), there may once again be limited interest in his services.
Given the money the Packers are likely to invest into Nelson and Cobb, there's probably not going to be much left over to offer Jones. All things being equal, they'd probably welcome Jones back, but not if he finds a more generous offer in free agency.
As the saying goes, all it takes is one team to fall in love with Jones, and it's very possible he may go to where he feels he'll be more appreciated.
Long-Range NFL Draft Outlook
There's one school of thought that thinks the Packers must be well-stocked with receiving weapons at Aaron Rodgers' disposal lest they waste the quarterback's years in his prime.
Calls for another young, talented wide receiver might only get louder if Jones departs in free agency.
However, what happens at the tight end position may have an impact on what type of weapons the Packers look to add to Rodgers' disposal.
Depending on the fate of Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless (both free agents), the Packers may consider looking at a top-flight tight end prospects in the NFL draft in lieu of a top-flight wideout.
Even if that's the case, it won't necessarily preclude the Packers from adding a wide receiver in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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