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Report: Top Packers WRs Could Be out of Town in 2018

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Report: Top Packers WRs Could Be out of Town in 2018

-- It's a little foreign, but for once, the Green Bay Packers are entering the offseason with a little uncertainty at the wide receiver position.

According to NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are both strong candidates to be released at some point during the next few months.

"I would be very surprised, based on what I'm hearing, if they end up keeping both of them," Rapoport said on NFL Network. "Just basing it on production, it would certainly make a lot of sense if it's Randall Cobb in the end who's looking for a job."

Not only do the financial burdens of keeping the two veteran receivers weigh significantly on the Packers' decision, but their contracts expire after the 2018 season. Both, if retained in Green Bay, would be entering the final season of their deals.

Cobb is coming off of his second consecutive subpar season, eclipsing 653 receiving yards in 2017 after narrowly grazing the 600 mark with 610 a year ago. He recorded four touchdowns in back-to-back campaigns as well, and his average receptions per game and average yards per reception have gradually dwindled by season since signing his four-year, $40 million dollar deal during the 2015 offseason.

From a schematic standpoint, Cobb's worth is fully known by the team and its coaches -- that's not a secret. It's why he may very well stay on his current salary and leave Nelson more susceptible to a contract restructure. Cobb is set to earn a base salary of $8.6 million next season.

Nelson, like Cobb, saw his play dramatically dip as well, however, his was far more heavily influenced by who was under center. 

Since 2011, Nelson's ascendance in the Packers' offense as Aaron Rodgers' primary target has been well-documented en route to 63 touchdowns from then to now -- or, in the 73 games he's played with Rodgers since. Their chemistry and on-field connection has been a large part of their success as a tandem, and also one of the main reasons Nelson fell off so stunningly with backup quarterback Brett Hundley.

Nelson, who turns 33 in May, didn't catch a single touchdown for the rest of the season since Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. That isn't to say he had his fair share of struggles getting open down the field, because the tape would say otherwise -- Nelson had no problems creating separation.

With Rodgers back in the lineup next season, his expertise and mastery of the wide receiver position should go back to being just what it was before. That may or may not warrant the $9.2 million the Packers owe him in 2018, but that's for new general manager Brian Gutekunst to decide.

News such as Cobb or Nelson -- or both -- not returning to Green Bay next season shouldn't exactly excite Rodgers, who already expressed his displeasure over the team's decision to allow Alex Van Pelt, his former quarterbacks coach, to leave Green Bay without consulting him.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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nigrivasilayesrej's picture

I'm hearing Cobb is the likely cut. Jordy will get moved to the slot, where he's most effective at this point of his career. I'm guessing Ty finds an increased role at WR next year. They need an outside speed WR, opposite DA. Here's hoping for DJ Moore in Rd2.

GBPDAN1's picture

Why do I feel like Cobb would become a Pro Bowler if he went to New England? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like a quick shifting slot receiver like Cobb would excel in that system ( like most of the players that fit Cobbs profile do). Brady helps make these guys productive.

Cobb would be worth the money he's making in New England . Why can't he excel with Rodgers? Maybe I'm over estimating Cobb?

Nick Perry's picture

I have that very same feeling.

John Kirk's picture

RC18 could easily be the next Casey Hayward...

It's interesting to compare his situation to Casey's. Casey had an absolutely incredible rookie year but his next 3 were brutal. RC18 had an incredible year, got his 40 million, and his next 3 seasons were brutal by comparison. Both guys battled injuries in the 3 year stretch that were down periods for both of them. Jordy's absence in 2015 affected Cobb...he still had 79 rec and over 800yds with 6 TD's but he was negatively impacted by missing 87 just like Davante was. (This is one of the reasons I fear Davante is a horrible overpay...he was awful when Jordy wasn't around. I realize he had the ankle issue but he was terrible that season without Jordy) So, for Cobb 2015 without Jordy and 2017 without Rodgers. Maybe, reason for optimism that 2018 in a contract year he explodes?

What do you do? 3 years is a heckuva sample size. Hayward had more passes defensed his rookie season than he had in the other 3 combined by 7! He had 6 INTs in his rookie season and 3 the other 3 years combined. Cobb goes for nearly 1300 yds and 12 TDs and only produces 2100 yards the next 3 combined with 14 TDs. Did Cobb dial it down after the money? Not a concern with Hayward as he never got big money from us.

Hard to imagine if they had to choose they'd pick a soon to be 33 year old. Maybe, Jordy will shock everyone and announce his retirement and then a restructure of Cobb is completed? Montgomery is going to have to lose some weight if we're going to bring him back as a WR. He looked like the stay puft marshmallow man last season.

Tundraboy's picture

I think we all do.

cuervo's picture

"Cobb would be worth the money he's making in New England "

New England would never pay a receiver like Cobb 10 mio a season. Amendola is paid 1.6 mio and Edelman had a 2 year 11mio.contract. Both of them are significanly better than Cobb.

Cobb is worth no more than 5-6 mio/season max IMO, and I would be shocked if he got anywhere near his current contract with any other team in the league if he is cut.

fthisJack's picture

let Cobb walk and sign Amendola. the guy is always open and catches everything thrown to him and save 5 million bucks!

Packmaniac's picture

I’ve felt the same — and there’s a very good chance Belichick will grab him if he’s released. He won’t have to pay him 10 mil. No one will. Cobb’s current deal will go straight out the window because nobody will sign him unless that contract is shredded.

GBPDAN1's picture

Hi, Cuervo

I know NE wouldn't pay Cobb what he's making now. You are right, They are to crafty to do that. My point is that if Cobb made the Pro Bowl, the production he would of had to do so would be worth his pay as a league standard. That's the production Green Bay thought they were getting when they signed him to his current deal.

Obviously, his production the last 2 years doesn't warrant his current deal, which brings up my next point. Why do I feel like his production would rise significantly in NE? Is it because of the system? Is it Brady? Why can't this production happen in Green Bay? He has not lived up to his deal, even before Hundley was the QB for 9 or so games.

As I mentioned in my post, maybe I'm wrong and I'm over estimating Cobb in NE? But, I'm very curious to see what would happen if he went there , no matter the deal. I'd be looking at production

Tundraboy's picture

Crafty or Krafty?

GBPDAN1's picture

Lol... I'm going with Krafty

Hawg Hanner's picture

The writer states Nelson had no problem creating separation. Is that really the case? I would surmise the bulk of Nelson's receptions were comebacks with an immediate tackle. I don't think he was beating anyone cross or down field. 33 is old. There seems a huge emotional attachment to Nelson. Fans want him back though he seems a shadow of the player he once was. You just can't afford him.

Spock's picture

Hawg, I was wondering if that was a typo myself. The tape definitely shows that Nelson had a LOT of problems getting separation. Jordy is one of my favorite players, but there is no way he had "no problem" getting separation.

flackcatcher's picture

It's Cobb's agent who is pushing this out. Letting other teams GM know thru 'leak reports'. I swear, between the Federal government and the NFL, I don't know who is worse. Cobb's agent is gong to have to wait with the rest of us. It is one of many things which come out of a new front office. Player agents and sports reporters are going to have to get use to it. Here is a reality check. It is extremely early in the off season, and the Packers are still running thru their self evaluation of their team. In other words, they don't know themselves.

Bearmeat's picture

How do you know that about Cobb's agent?

flackcatcher's picture

It's Ian Rapport, his main sources are players agents. This is how players (and teams) get around league anti tampering rules. In the old days, before the current CBA, agents gave the local beat reporter a 'heads up'. Now that goes to so-called national reporters like Rapport who beat is the NFL it self. (nuts, I can't even get the man's name right. Ugh......)

Oppy's picture

It's Charlie Montique who's pushing this stuff out.
Been seen drunk at BeanSnappers telling anyone who'll listen.

Rossonero's picture

Lol Beansnappers! Haven't heard that name in years.

stockholder's picture

Cobb came back to win get a ring. I wouldn't take a pay cut if I was him. The trash talk is aimed at him. Adams is their Boy and we know that now. Cobb is not a player for Rebuilds. Or one that plays second fiddle to a player that drops balls. A-Rod only has eyes for his favorite. If I was his agent I wouldn't let changes get in the way of my star.

fthisJack's picture

i think he either takes a pay cut or he's gone. lots of good FA slot receivers this year that would cost half as much.

Bearmeat's picture

Sorry, but this: "That isn't to say he had his fair share of struggles getting open down the field, because the tape would say otherwise -- Nelson had no problems creating separation" is objectively not true.

Sure, Jordy made some plays last year and in 2016. But he's nowhere near the player he was pre-ACL. I mean, this great piece was written on CHTV not long ago for crying out loud.

Jordy can't run at an average NFL level anymore. He gets by on guile, on precise body control, and an otherworldly connection with ARod. He can no longer effectively be an outside WR. He is an above average slot WR now for the reasons mentioned above. That's it.

That doesn't mean I think he should be cut either. I think he's still a superior WR to Randall and would probably come cheaper.

All I hope is that one is restructured and the other is replaced for 2018. We need more speed outside opposite Adams, and there's only so many snaps to go around.

stockholder's picture

We need defense! We need a Back -up QB. We want WRS for the future. Both Nelson and Cobb, even Janis, are not going to want to stay in GB. ( if you pick two more Adams! ) It's just that simple. They changed the rules of a player waiting for his chance. A-Rod fed Adams. For Cobb his best football should be ahead of him. For Nelson he just became Donald Driver. You want players gone for Cap reasons. You just entered the twilight zone! NO Super-bowl without veteran leadership. And you just entered a rebuild, where people only collect their pay- check.

Chuck Farley's picture

Back up qb? are you saying Huntley isn't our guy.? Im shocked. If they keep hundley its only because they need the pick for defense

Tundraboy's picture

The future is now. Restructure and keep Jordy for savvy with Rodgers. Cut Cobb if he doesn't restructure. Sign FA WR and maybe draft another.

Hawg Hanner's picture

IO think you have it backwards. Cut Nelson and bring back Cobb at a reduced contract

marpag1's picture

Totally agree, Bearmeat. Nelson was pedestrian at best, and we can't blame everything on Brett Hundley. He WASN'T getting open nearly enough. There is no way at all that Nelson's 2017 performance was worth 10 million or anything close to that.

Maybe it's going a bit too far - it probably is - but I'm almost inclined to say, "Either Nelson just wasn't really trying after ARod went down, or he's finished." And both of those are obviously bad things.

Maybe Jordy can get it cranked up again. I have my doubts. But the idea that 2017's Jordy Nelson was a top-flight wide receiver who struggled only because be didn't have a tolerable QB isn't even close to reality.

stockholder's picture

I think mentally he wasn't the same. But even James Jones was good coming back.

Bure9620's picture

I realize I'm in the minority and I have really liked Jordy through his career, as a player and as a person. He is done. If there is an either/or scenario, you keep Cobb and cut Jordy, and frankly it's not close. I have seen Cobb get behind the secondary and not thrown to on many occasions. I encourage packers fans to watch the offense and routes from the Nose bleeds and get an OC view. Cobb can create separation, Jordy cannot. It's that simple.
Jordy is NEVER open, outside of a quick cut 5 yards of the LOS he may be for a split second and then he's done. The only reason he is productive is Rodgers can throw him open on back shoulder throws and on certain routes where he knows he'll be. Jordy will go down as a terrific packer and a historically productive one. He has been under rated most of his career, but he is now done. He also knows it too, he is already saying he is willing to restructure and the season just ended.

Ds300916's picture

There is plenty of film this year that would disagree with that (I think we can all agree that Brett Hundley didn't give many opportunities to anyone, besides of course Adams) . Jordy may not have the speed he used to, but he is a great route runner and has almost 10 years of being Rodgers' favorite target. That means a lot in the redzone where touchdowns win games and field goals lose them. Jordy would make an excellent slot receiver a la Larry Fitzgerald.

Bure9620's picture

Not denying the route running at all, read the post, he lacks explosiveness now and cannot separate. Cobb is also a good route runner, an under rated one actually. Don't think Jordy is Larry Fitzgerald at this point though, sorry. I am also aware of 10 years with Rodgers, I watched the Packers the entire time. Careers end, players get old and regress, it's his time. No I do not see film of Jordy Nelson consistently creating separation over the last 2 years, at all. Please let me know of some.

Oppy's picture

There's plenty of film showing Jordy Nelson quitting on plays before the whistle was blown while Brett Hundley was under center, too. (I think we won't all agree with that, because people like to keep their Packers favorites on a pedestal.)

While I don't think Jordy is flat-out "done", he was a speed WR who is now on the wrong side of 30 and has had knee reconstruction.

If it would boil down to an either/or situation with Cobb and Nelson, I keep Cobb no questions asked. Younger, gets separation more frequently, more sudden, and we have young deep speed receivers who are developing who can play the perimeter- more than we have shifty slot guys behind Cobb.

I'd keep them both if I could, but Jordy is not the player he used to be, and I'm not so sure he's a guaranteed cow bell slot WR. Will he still grab some TD's? Yes, but I feel Cobb has more life left in him and upside at this point in their careers.

HankScorpio's picture

Jordy had speed and used it but I wouldn't call him a speed WR. He's got body control like few others. That's an asset that Rodgers can turn into production but Hundley really can't. Besides, speed isn't the only part of getting deep. Early on, James Jones could get deep and he never had much speed.

Still, in the end, I agree with your assessment of talent. Cobb is the better bet to keep. Their ages make it an easy call. But I wouldn't keep either at their current number. I think you can find as good or better for cheaper. Of the two, I'd bet Nelson would be more willing to take less and stay. Cobb could probably get more on the open market and would seem more likely to play hard ball to force them to let him go.

RCPackerFan's picture

You are right that Jordy lacks the explosiveness that he used to have. And he can't get open or behind opponents as frequently as he used to.

But that being said, when Rodgers is throwing him the ball Jordy is nearly open on every play. The difference is with Rodgers compared to Hundley and others is that he doesn't need a WR to be open by 5 yards. He needs them open by a yard. Jordy can do that still.
If they rotate Jordy more often that would be ok. Using him more on 3rd downs and redzone, they would be just fine.

Nelson and Rodgers are in sync with each other, so much that losing that connection would create some struggles within the offense.

Ds300916's picture

After watching Adams leave two games this year with significant head injuries/Concussions, I fully support Cobb trying to maximize his career earnings however that may be. If that means he chooses to potentially decline a paycut with us, than so be it and I wish him the best (unless he signs with Minnesota of course)

Riverboy's picture

Cut Cobb, renegotiate Nelson's deal or cut him, move Ty back to slot receiver and sign Sammy Watkins to replace Jordy on the outside. The net result is a $5M cap savings in 2018 and more speed at offensive skill positions.

Bearmeat's picture

Maybe not Watkins, but someone with speed. That said, if Watkins really only cost 5m, I'd jump on that.

Royalty Free GM's picture

That’s right but replace signing Watkins with drafting WR Ridley. Trade up couple spots to get him, because he will not be available at 14th.

Adams, Ridley, Nelson
would be a great combination for Arod to work with.

Then we just need Pettine’s defense that can hold opponents to 20 points. Let defense have draft picks #2 # 3 and #4.

Chuck Farley's picture

If I had to guess, since there is nothing else to do now but watch American skaters place 18th, I would not be shocked to see Cobb cut and Nelson taking a pay cut. No way you give the farm to a 34 year old receiver. No , you pay big bucks for a receiver when you got 12 picks in the draft. Plus other receivers will be available and we have some pretty decent guys already.

Lphill's picture

I think they both stay , Rodgers is comfortable with them and it seems they are finally listening to him . We can't judge them by last years performance without Rodgers .

fastmoving's picture

normaly Im not one of the drama queens. but if you let your QB running the team its the safest way to tearing it down.....

Fordham Ram's picture

Cobb has one year left on his contract, players generally go all out on their last year, just ask Nick Perry, he had a phenomenal year on the last year of his contract. I expect Cobb with the return of Rodgers to do the same.
So I say keep Cobb he'll be motivated. This idea also applies to Clinton Dix for that matter who seemed to be coasting last year, I believe because he wanted to avoid injury then go all next season in order to cash in the following year on a good contract. It's human nature I suppose. As for Nelson, keep him too, he has a connection with his QB that can't be duplicated. It takes years to establish that. Why throw that away. He ain't washed up. Let him finish his contract out and retire with dignity as a Green Bay Packer, Jordy deserves it.

dobber's picture

"Cobb has one year left on his contract, players generally go all out on their last year, just ask Nick Perry, he had a phenomenal year on the last year of his contract."

Actually, since the Packers didn't pick up Perry's 5th year option, the previous year was a contract year, too. Compare his numbers those two years.

"Let him finish his contract out and retire with dignity as a Green Bay Packer, Jordy deserves it."

This is how teams end up in cap hell with aging rosters and players who can't get it done.

Fordham Ram's picture

Betcha dollars to doughnuts Jordy fools all you naysayers. He has one year left and being a true Packer, will not pack it in, and in the red zone where speed doesn't count so much but good rout running and good hands do will return to the touchdown machine he was prior to Rodgers injury. Chemistry counts and those two have it.

HankScorpio's picture

I hope you're right, Fordham.

RCPackerFan's picture

I laid out a reason why they may keep both WR's a few articles ago.

All of these reports, I will believe when I see. Ian Rappaport who I do like to get info from, isn't always accurate with his information.

If it were me, I'd keep both, and trying to restructure at least one of them. Obviously its not up to me, so we will see what happens.

Bearmeat's picture

And if you keep both, where are the snaps going to come from with any amount of pro football ability outside opposite Davante? Further, where is the cap relief going to come from? How would they afford, I dunno, a veteran corner, or (even better), a veteran pass rusher?

I think cutting one is a no-brainer.

HankScorpio's picture

No matter the contacts, if you keep Nelson and Cobb, you're obviously saying that the combination of not playing Hundley and the coaching staff revamp is going to solve all the passing game issues. I'm not so sure I think that's a really good bet. Maybe that will be the case. Maybe not.

I know for sure that that group + Rodgers has not performed up to expectations in the playoffs as consistently as I'd like. So I sure would not mind shaking things up on offense. Like so many others, just winning the division isn't really enough for me. The bar needs to be set higher. I don't mind keeping one of the two. But given the entire picture of cap, snaps and past performance, I think it is time to let go of the status quo and shake things up.

scullyitsme's picture

What games where you people watching? I saw jordy with a step or two deep once or twice in almost every game this year. Only to see Hundley launch a mortar ball pick, or Rodgers back with no arm strength severely under throwing him. He has a lot of value to the pack yet. Cobb, while I think is still a good player is just more replaceable. That’s why he’ll be the one to leave if one does. Jordy might move to slot but he can also still play outside imo, that’s worth more than Cobb.

fthisJack's picture

i saw Jordy open deep several times and couldn't get him the ball. i hope they restructure Jordy and cut Cobb. there are a number of slot receivers hitting FA this year that would cost half as much as Cobb and you woulnd't be losing much if anything. Amendola anyone? the guy gets open and catches everything!

Handsback's picture

I read these reports just like everyone else. The key is to read what pro scouts say, and frankly I haven't read any articles (and probably won't because they aren't published) that say Nelson is getting slow and Cobb is leaving.
There's a lot of money stashed into the WR position, that's a fact. The WRs last year had horrible numbers, that's a fact. Without Rodgers, the Green Bay passing attack was awful, that's a fact. So maybe 1+1=2 in that the primary reason the WRs were crappy was due to crappy QB performance.

That don't have to be a scout to see the need for more speed in the WR ranks. Maybe the rookies will take that next step and push Geronimo and Janis out the door, or Gutsey picks up a speed guy like John Brown. I don't know, but I think before they start cutting WRs the Packers have to find out who can still play when you have Rodgers as the QB.

jimtalkbox's picture

Completely agree. Let the emotion of a train-wreck 2017 season subside and review how these guys played with Rodgers. In NO way should we judge these guys based on the play of an absolute bottom tier QB like Hundley.

Also don't give me this "Let Cobb go and replace him with Montgomery" nonsense. Monty had minimal success as a receiver and they moved him to running back for a reason.

I agree that we always need new blood, it's the nature of the NFL. TT drafted a pair last year and seemingly whiffed on both. Draft a guy or two again and have Philbin/McCarthy get REALLY creative with the personnel. With a healthy Rodgers at the helm, the passing game will ALWAYS be successful.

scullyitsme's picture

On another note, this idea or fear going around that if we cut Cobb he’ll immediately become an all star with another team is a little weird, offense has never been our problem when it comes to getting the most out of players. They play with Aaron frickin Rodgers. A wide out will get better when they leave? I think not. How’d that work for Jennings, jones, etc. . A little knee jerk reaction to the defensive side of the ball perhaps?

Red Foreman's picture

^ This guy. Why would you keep a player because you are afraid of what he might do with another team? Backwards thinking.

dobber's picture


HankScorpio's picture

And so what if he does leave and play well for somebody else? The issue at hand is the cap hit. Cobb has not performed up to that level. If it was TT and he was going to sit on the cap space, it would make more sense to just keep him anyways. But Gute is promising to be more aggressive in FA. They don't have the cap space to be aggressive as it stands now.

mcduff67's picture

Old horses get sent out to pasture, No different in this

Dzehren's picture

Seems simple: extend there contracts to reduce cap hit or they get traded or cut. Cobb has more value since he’s 27 vs Nelson 33. Jordy probably has zero trade value.

HankScorpio's picture

Ty Montgomery's name should be more prominent in discussion of the 2018 WR group. He was never a RB. He was just forced into the role out of necessity. Kudos to him for doing what he had to do to help the team. But the emergence of the rookie RBs last year has changed the circumstances.

Monty slides into Cobb's role nicely and does it on a rookie deal. Throw in some cap savings either by extending Nelson at a reduced AAV or a straight pay cut. Spend the cap savings in FA. It would be nice if that included a legitimate deep threat. But shoring up the right-side of the OL or adding defensive help is nice, too.

Rebecca's picture

Montgomery should be given a chance at receiver. Based on the last 2 seasons he's a significant injury risk and mostly not available. This is also waste of $. New blood is needed, veterans who can stay healthy and draftees who have some speed, brains, and work ethic. Probably not gonna happen. Nelson might restructure and give himself another couple of years chance at another ring.

HankScorpio's picture

I agree that new blood is needed near the top of the WR pecking order. It just seems like the current crew struggles a little too much for my tastes. I hate blowing up the chemistry they have. It's a risk that they will be able to develop it quickly enough to advance further than they have. But I think it must be done to take a step forward. I think they can get better and pay less money doing it, if they play their cards right.

Arthur Jackson's picture

Nelson did fine with scub QBs in 2013. 2017 not so much. Cobb did fine without Nelson in 2012. Why keep a guy who is terrible without Rodgers? Let Nelson go and get a guy who is good without Rodgers because he will be that much better with him.

Neither Cobb nor Nelson is taking a paycut - not without being cut. They will either play the last year of the contracts as is, sign an extension that will guarantee the amount they would be paid this season so the per season appears less or they will be cut.

Tundraboy's picture

Whether it's this year or next, WRs needs a retooling. Get a FA speed guy now. Draft another. This year, at least one of the old guard has to go and one of the newer guys besides Adams needs to make a jump.

stockholder's picture

FA This team needs a TE first . Besides Adams- What do you Mean JUMP??? Or is it Adams will never be Nelson or Cobb. He's streaky. And if he doesn't stay jacked watch what happens. ADAMS IS #1 BY MONEY PAID. FARVE THREW TO LESSER TALENT. Draft Defense!

MarkAlan's picture

How much would thair pair drop off next year ?

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