How Much Should The Packers Pay Mike Daniels?

The veteran defensive lineman is entering the last year of his rookie contract. 

This year, Bryan Bulaga and Randall Cobb sweated out Packers fans as both were allowed to hit free agency before returning to the Green and Gold fold.  While losing Cobb and Bulaga would have undoubtedly hurt the offense, with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, many were confident that the Packers offense would be all right somehow.

Defense, of course, is a whole other can of beans.  The defense has been tantalizing spectacular on occasions sandwiched between fits of pure ineptitude and there are few defensive players that have been consistently productive.  Mike Daniels is maybe the only player other than Clay Matthews that is star player on defense and the Packers will need to take care of him at some point this season.

With contract negotiations in the NFL, often times contracts are based on existing contracts.  With that in mind, below are some of the most relevant contracts to Mike Daniels and the Packers.   

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  • J.J. Watt: Signed a 6-year, $100 million contract with over 51% guaranteed (20.5 sacks, 59 tackles) – The obvious outlier of the group, J.J. Watt has a quarterback-caliber salary that comes with the guarantees of a quarterback as well.  From the sounds of it most teams and agents are ignoring the contract as a reference point; no other 3-4 DE can really compare to Watt in terms of production and teams don’t view 3-4 DE as a position comparable to a quarterback in terms of impact or value.  While Daniel’s agent may try to bring up Watt’s contract I’m pretty sure the Packers will correctly insist that Watt’s contract should not be part of the discussion.  
  • Calais Campbell: Signed a 5-year, $55 million contract with 31% guaranteed (7 sacks, 48 tackles) – Probably the best “true” 3-4 DE in the league (if that means anything anymore with the rise in hybrid defenses and the predominance of defensive sub-packages).  Campbell’s contract is large but does contain the lowest guaranteed percentage of anyone on this list.  I would argue that this was more to do with the landscape of the NFL when Campbell signed his contract and less with his actual value.  While Daniels probably will not like signing a contract with such a low guaranteed number, the Packers will try to sweeten the pot in other ways in order to get Daniels to agree.    
  • Corey Liuget: Signed a 5-year, $51 million contract with 60% guaranteed (4.5 sacks, 45 tackles) – Perhaps the most head scratching signing of the group, Liuget has been decent with the Chargers but he’s definitely not as productive as Campbell in any regard.  However, Liuget was a 1st round pick and has been relatively successful as a pass rusher, which drives up his value.  My personal opinion is that Daniel’s agent should be using Liuget’s contract as the minimum for any negotiation.  The Packers will probably have to accept Liuget’s contract for consideration since it’s recent (signed this offseason) and Liuget’s production is similar (albeit slightly lower) than Daniel’s
  • Jurrell Casey: Signed a 4-year, $36 million contract with 56% guaranteed (5 sacks, 45 tackles) – Another good option to start negotiations, as the Packers prefer shorter contracts that lower the overall cost of the contract, but do give the player a second chance at free agency.  Casey and Daniels are also very similar types of players in the sense that they are smaller defensive tackles who have been switched to being a rushing 3-4 DE; as such both have had relatively similar careers and production up to this point.  I would think that both Daniels and the Packers should be looking at Casey’s contract as a reference point.

Historically the Packers have liked to do a couple of things with their contracts; they have always preferred to work with smaller, shorter contracts that enable the team to cut their losses should a player falter but will also allow players to hit free agency a second time in their prime (although many times it won’t be the Packers paying them i.e. Greg Jennings). 

Second, the Packers prefer to keep the guaranteed money low relative to the contract.  The average guaranteed percentage looks to be around 30-40% outside of players on their rookie contracts (which close to 100% guaranteed due to the CBA), Sean Richardson (who was signed to a RFA offer sheet that is again essentially 100% guaranteed) and Aaron Rodgers (who as a star quarterback lives under his own set of rules).  Even Randall Cobb, this offseason’s prized resigning only got 32.5% of his contract guaranteed while Bryan Bulaga only got 23% of his salary guaranteed. 

In the end I think Daniels will likely sign a contract that takes all the contracts outside of Watt’s into consideration.  My best guess is that the Packers will offer a contract worth $10 million (on par with Liuget) on average for 4 years (similar to Casey) but will include a relatively low signing bonus (probably a little higher than Campbell’s).  While I don’t know why Daniels would accept so many concessions for the Packers, every player from Aaron Rodgers on down seems to have given a hometown discount so Daniels will likely be the next player to decide that the grass isn’t greener on the other side.  

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Comments (38)

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mbrand1969's picture

July 06, 2015 at 01:20 pm

i say 5 year 45 mil thats what they gave cobb and nelson and they are play makers

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hobbes's picture

July 06, 2015 at 03:15 pm

If anything, Nelson and Cobb (although it's hard to value a contract when a player hasn't seen the field under it) are underpaid.

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Tarynfor12's picture

July 06, 2015 at 01:36 pm

As much as Daniels has played well,lets remember that much,IMO,of his play is held in higher than over all regard than perhaps should be because of the lacking of his competition on the Packers less his offensive opponents week to week.
Assigning a dollar amount to his future contract using the contracts of recent elsewhere for others is understood but shouldn't be the reason for over paying yours since each teams position in regards to total player talent is different.

Are the players mentioned as comparison, all that their respective team has and can ill afford to lose and if so,is Daniels really a player for the Packers of such regard.Perhaps he is but I'd risk the chance of losing him if FA or finding it necessary to pay more to retain him after this season,but I would want to see him at least hold even with his play to date or make another step up the ladder level before doing anything.

I'm not saying Daniels isn't a worthy player,I'm just not sure he is a 'must' keep as yet via his play though the failure of the his team competition this season might (crosses fingers and holds breath) make that 'must' keep a priority sometime during the season.

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Evan's picture

July 06, 2015 at 01:42 pm

This is like a bad google translate.

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Tarynfor12's picture

July 06, 2015 at 01:52 pm

Yes.....I suppose thinking can be a chore at times and too much to expect even when the merest level of effort is required.

You could have simply skipped it.

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Evan's picture

July 06, 2015 at 02:17 pm

"You could have simply skipped it."

Now that is a intelligible sentence. Will do.

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hobbes's picture

July 06, 2015 at 03:10 pm

This is simply how the NFL marketplace operates. Any quarterback looking to be the highest paid player in the NFL will look to beat benchmarks signed by Aaron Rodgers. Daniels will be looking to his well compensated peers and will try to match or exceed their contracts. His argument will likely be "If Corey Liuget got paid this much and I'm a better player than he is, then why shouldn't I make more money them him?" Now it's quite possible that the Chargers value Liuget more than the Packers value Daniels, but Daniels rightly can point out that Campbell, Liuget and Casey all make more than $9 million, so if the Packers aren't willing to offer at least market value, Daniel will likely be able to find another team that will. The Packers could attempt to lowball Daniels with the threat of a tag, but both sides know that a tag is unrealistic.

While team need and production do take should be taken into account, the contract environment also plays a huge factor in negotiations. The Bears probably knew that Jay Cutler wasn't a super star quarterback, but given the rarity of even average quarterbacks coupled with the insane salaries given at the time of Cutler's resigning, they didn't have much choice but to cave into Cutler's demands.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

July 07, 2015 at 09:36 am

Spot on Taryn.

I had to read it a few times to understand your points. You have a different writing style, that's for sure. I know you'll lash back at me for being "stupid." However, I am a biochemist at a major research university, not that it matters. Just saying.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 06, 2015 at 04:14 pm

Shorter contracts also implicitly have less guaranteed money.

I also expect 4 years and 8-10 per. Daniels likes it here, and gets on with Mac very, very well. He's a smart guy, he's not going anywhere.

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hobbes's picture

July 06, 2015 at 05:52 pm

True, but I was going off guaranteed percentage to account for this.

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real some guy's picture

July 06, 2015 at 04:49 pm

love Mike D but 10 million per year is too much. same for shields.

can't just throw money around. at some point you just have to let go if the price gets too high.

I hope they get something done and it doesn't go to free agency. I'd much rather pay him 8 per year with a larger gauranteed chunk than a higher average per year

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hobbes's picture

July 06, 2015 at 05:54 pm

One way to lower the cost would be to extend him midseason, which gives him the guarantee in case of injury during his contract year. Maybe it would have been more appropriate to say my prediction would be based on fair market value on both sides, not what will actually happen. For all I know, Daniels is willing to take a hometown discount in order to win a Super Bowl.

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real some guy's picture

July 06, 2015 at 07:24 pm

yep. i really hope that happens

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 06, 2015 at 11:09 pm

I think the comments above fail to recognize just how good Daniels is, and how empty the cupboard is at DE for GB. If it is an extension, I expect GB to pony up $10 to $11 million per year for 4 years (I like the shorter length because he is undersized). If GB allows Daniels to become a UFA, he will get more. Wilkerson will be the contract that Daniels' agent points to as the benchmark if he becomes a UFA.

Thomas did not mention the most direct comparison which is to Jordan, who was just extended for $11 million per year.

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Evan's picture

July 07, 2015 at 07:13 am

I'm 100% guilty of not fully appreciating how good Daniels is. As was said below me, he's clearly our best DL, but is he among the best in the league? I honestly don't know.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 07, 2015 at 09:03 am

Me neither. However, he is very very honest with his comments asssessing his play. If he thinks he played like crap, he says so.
He appears quick, agile, and slippery, which I think assists him vs the pass. The question in my mind: is he stout enough vs the run? The coaches have all these grades but they're not about to share them with the public.

The reason I'm a bit of a "coach's grades" geek is that they take into account what a player's assignment was for each play. How many times have you seen/heard a comment after giving up a long pass: "player X got beat on that one!"? When I hear that I tend to wonder, "yeah, but was that his assignment, or did another player get smoked and player X just looked bad because he was the closest player to the carnage?"

D linemen operate in such tight quarters I think it's difficult to assess their work vs the run play after play. I mean, sure, we see the highlights on replay when a guy slips a block and makes a TFL, (or gets blown off the ball) but how about the consistency?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 07, 2015 at 10:15 am

Evan and TK, it is perfectly possible that I have over-estimated how well Daniels plays. I was a doubter about him. Prior to the 2014 season, I wrote that Daniels was not a complete DE since I did not think he had proven himself against the run. He did well against the run last year, IMO. I'd suggest that he is somewhere between the 5th and 8th best 3-4 DE in the NFL, and that there is a drop-off after about the 9th or 10th best guy. Who knows: perhaps he will take a home town discount.

He does seem to be the perfect guy to extend. No character concerns, etc. I have no idea how TT decides whether to extend a particular player. Extended Nelson, but not Shields, who wanted one, for example.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 01:27 pm

Daniels was rated the 6th best 3-4 DE last year according to PFF. Now PFF has it's own biases but assuming they are not completely off I would wager most sources would put him in the top 15, which in my opinion makes him among the best in the league.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:07 am

One other point that I had thought about bringing up (and then promptly forgot) was that the Packers likely know that Wilkerson will break the bank since the Jets are one of the more player-friendly teams in terms of contracts and as a defensive-focused team, they value their defensive players higher than most teams do.

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Chad Lundberg's picture

July 07, 2015 at 03:17 am

Come on, 10 mil a year? The guy is easily our best D-linemen, but he's not even a pro-bowler.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:08 am

Whether he is worth $10 million is a good question; however the Packers will likely have to pay in that range since other teams will offer more if Daniels hits free agency. Teams pay based on market value not on performance value, even if they really should.

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alwz4gbp's picture

July 07, 2015 at 05:24 am

No way he should approach ten million/year. Yes, hes good and a guy who is easy to root for but thats a bit over the top.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:11 am

The bigger question is do you think another team will be willing to pay him $10 million a year? Based off Corey Liuget, Cameron Jordan and Jurrell Casey's contract indications would point at yes. The Packers could of course simply choose not to match whatever Daniels receives but the Packers have a reputation of taking care of their own players and I don't think they really want Daniels to leave.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 07, 2015 at 01:34 pm

Picture this: It is 2016 and Daniels has left in FA, so GB starts Datone, a resigned Raji/Guion or Pennel, and Guion/Boyd/Ringo/Thornton/rookie high pick/FA acquisition. Unless Daniels goes around shooting folks, or the like, given the dearth of proven quality DL on the roster, my guess is that GB will make every effort to re-sign him, and that means paying market rate. Or, we'll have articles on how TT has devalued DE.

On June 2, 2015, Cam Jordan signed an extension for 5 yrs., $60 mill (really $55 million since $5 million is in very hard to obtain incentives). Very similar stats, both would be extensions, not the UFA situation. Daniels would have a strong argument that he is at least as good as and maybe better than Jordan. I have some qualms with keeping Raji, Guion and Daniels as 3 of the 6 DL on the roster - half of our guys in contract years scares me.

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Travis_Jervey's picture

July 07, 2015 at 08:47 am

GB is about $15M under right now, and that will either be used or carried into next year. Daniels and Hayward are really the only two key FAs after this year (though 2017 is a doozy and could use every dime they can carry.)

Combine that with the fact that I sincerely doubt we'll see the full $29M currently committed to Shields, Peppers and Burnett in 2016 actually paid out, and there should be no issue giving Daniels $10M per year.

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Evan's picture

July 07, 2015 at 09:01 am

Plus the cap is expected to continue to go up.

Sitton and Lang will be interesting. Sitton is the better player, but he'll be on the wrong side of 30 (while Lang will only be 29). Though I feel like guards can play into their mid-30s without much issue.

I've love to see TT extend Lang for 2-3 years this next off-season and deal with Sitton in 2017.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 07, 2015 at 09:05 am

Agree on Sitton and Lang. I think TT tends to allow guys to walk a little too early rather than a little too late. But as you suggested, it'll be interesting.

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Evan's picture

July 07, 2015 at 09:17 am

Then there is Lacy, Bahktiari, Hyde....ugh.

But Peppers will come off the books, so it'll all even out. TT will get it done.

Of course, who knows will will get drafted and emerge between now and then, rendering this all moot. Two years is an eternity in the NFL. No need to stress myself out.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 07, 2015 at 09:30 am

Right again, sir!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 07, 2015 at 10:26 am

Sitton and Lang will be interesting. But the cap hit shouldn't be shocking. They already make a lot. Sitton already is the 5th highest paid OG. Lang is tied for 13th highest (4th highest RG). Sure, their pay will go up, but most of the increase will be just cap inflation. The key is structuring the contracts so that if father time catches up, it doesn't hurt GB too much. I agree that guards can play well at age 33 or 34. I read that Sitton's toe is bothering him again. Bakh will get a huge increase (probably $6-7 million increase in today's terms).

Lacy will be an interesting case. All those hits, couple of concussions, questions about his vision. He is a very good and complete RB. What risk will TT be willing to assume? Time will tell.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:27 am

I wonder if there is any parallel between the Saints and the Packers offensive histories. Both offenses featured super star quarterbacks with downfield passing attacks that were the rage 5-10 years ago. The Packers realized in 2011-2012 that a more balanced offense was needed and went out to fix it while the Saints were a couple years late and ended up blowing up their offense this offseason in order to get more balanced. If this is all true, this certainly would drive up Lacy's value.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:24 am

I would say Lacy probably is the priority. I think Bakhtiari has been propped up a bit by Rodgers and the rest of the offensive line; he was by far the Packers worst offensive linemen last year and if they can't resign him they can always shift Bulaga back to left tackle and find someone else to play right tackle. Hyde is a trickier guess since he plays so many positions is will be hard to really value him properly.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:29 am

I think if Sitton and Lang are willing to take contracts that pay well but aren't in line with their current contracts, they likely can get something done. If they want to cash out one last time before calling it a career then it will likely have to be with another team.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 11:21 am

Peppers likely will be asked to take a pay cut unless he really produces this season; he's on the older side and is obviously in Green Bay in order to win a championship so he doesn't have too much leverage.

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Oppy's picture

July 07, 2015 at 05:42 pm

Q: "How much should the Packers pay Mike Daniels?"

A: "As little as they can get away with."

That should be the answer no matter which player's name gets plugged into the question.

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 06:47 pm

Of course, but that doesn't make for a very interesting article.

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Allan Murphy's picture

July 07, 2015 at 05:47 pm

5 year 45 million ? %?

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hobbes's picture

July 07, 2015 at 06:48 pm

Possibly, it would certainly be within the range of the other recent signings. If the Packers do go with a longer contract, I would expect the guaranteed money to drop to compensate.

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