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Subtle Message Sent to Nelson & Cobb: Accept a Contract Offer Soon

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Subtle Message Sent to Nelson & Cobb: Accept a Contract Offer Soon

Whether intentional or simply a byproduct of drafting three wide receivers the Green Bay Packers felt they couldn't pass up, a subtle message has been sent to fellow wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb: Sign your contract extensions soon, lest you be passed in the wide receiver pecking order.

Both Nelson and Cobb enter the final year of their respective deals and are scheduled to become free agents in 2015.

Obviously the three rookies drafted by the Packers—second-rounder Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-round Jeff Janis—have a long way to go before proving themselves at an NFL level and supplanting any veterans on the wide receiver totem pole. And that's not even including third-rounder Richard Rodgers, a tight end in a wide receiver's body.

But general manager Ted Thompson was not about to let occur what happened late in Brett Favre's tenure during the Mike Sherman era in Green Bay, namely failing to surround him with sufficient receiving talent.

Personnel decisions may be driven in Green Bay by primarily altruistic reasons for the sake and overall well-being of the team above any individual, but the Packers certainly aren't oblivious to the bottom line and how decisions can be influenced by the salary cap and almight dollar.

Such was the case earlier this offseason when the team decided to keep David Bakhtiari at left tackle and move Bryan Bulaga back to right tackle.

A compelling argument could have been made either way, and ultimately, the plan is to have both Bakhtiari and Bulaga on the field at the same time. But by making the decision they did, the Packers saved themselves millions of dollars if and when they re-sign Bulaga by generally type-casting him as a right tackle.

If there's anyone that deserves a raise in the NFL, it's Jordy Nelson, who played the role of good soldier in accepting a contract below market value the last time he was up for free agency. By generally out-playing his contract and developing into a veritable No. 1 NFL wide receiver, Nelson has set himself up for a hefty pay raise.

I cannot enter Nelson's mind and he doesn't seem to be the type to do such a thing, but it's not in his best interests to hold the organization hostage in contract negotiations.

Nelson has shown to be at the top his game and has given no indications of slowing down, but at 28 years old, his window for top-tier play probably only lasts until he hits the wrong side of 30.

If Nelson expects the Packers to committ to him for the next five seasons, he probably has a rude awakening coming to him—unless it were a contract structured such that the Packers could easily escape.

Recent examples of two Packers passing up limited-time offers were wide receiver Greg Jennings and B.J. Raji, who could have made significantly more money had they chosen to gamble on free agency.

Jennings reportedly received an offer averaging $11 million per season from the Packers when he was seeking in the realm of $15 million before settling on a deal that paid him roughly $9 million per annum with the Minnesota Vikings.

Raji found himself in a similar situation, reportedly spurning an offer of $8 million a year before returning to the Packers on just a one-year deal worth $4 million and merely $500,000 guaranteed earlier this offseason.

For what it's worth, Nelson and Cobb don't seem like the type of people that will fall for the same traps as Jennings and Raji, but the allure of large sums of money has a way of making people act differently.

Nelson and Cobb would be advised to accept a fair and reasonable contract offer from the Packers while their earning power is at its highest.

Coming off a season in which he had a career-high 85 receptions for 1,314 yards, Nelson has never been more valuable. And the lasting image people have of Randall Cobb this past season is him streaking to the end zone against the Chicago Bears to help clinch the NFC North division title and a spot in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, both receivers have also had injury issues in recent seasons—a hamstring issue that forced Nelson to miss four games in 2012 and a broken leg that kept Cobb out nearly half the season last year.

All it can take is one more injury to receive a label as injury-prone and be passed by a Davante Adams or a Jarrett Boykin—at least from a production standpoint. Nelson and Cobb don't want that to happen and should accept the security a fair but still lucrative contract extension offers without having to squeeze out every last penny.

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].

Photo: Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson by Larry Radloff Photography.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (40) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

This was a pretty fair view of the situation, Brian. I am really optimistic that deals will get done for both these guys.

Evan's picture

Both will be re-signed. Cobb probably first (before the season starts) then Nelson by the bye week.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Evan, You may very well be right, but I am, & have not been convinced of that since I was trying to keep James Jones. I could see both Jordy & Cobb going into Free Agency, as Bad as that sounds. Until these guy's sign with GB, I could see both moving on. Hope I'm wrong.

Evan's picture

No offense to Jones, who I liked a lot, but he's not in the same class as Jordy or Cobb. Plus he was older.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Evan, I know Jones was not in the same class. I could see a senerial, at the time of both Cobb & Jordy leaving. That possibility still exists. Not saying it will, but that was one of the main reasons I wanted to keep JJ. I can still see a whole new receiving core. Do I really believe Jordy & Cobb will leave?, probably not, but what if it happens? I can see TT maybe breaking the bank for 1, but not both. I'll be happy to be wrong. Until they are signed, I see both going into FA. Yes, they risk getting hurt. I hope you're right, & they both sign before this season.

The TKstinator's picture

What is a "senerial"?

BradHTX's picture

I think he meant scenario.

The TKstinator's picture

Oops! Right.
I was about to say my favorite is Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

BradHTX's picture

Now THAT was clever! Well done, sir.

The TKstinator's picture


MarkinMadison's picture

I think it all depends on how the season plays out. The depth of talent in the draft at the WR position this year was truly amazing. Odds are the 2/3 of the drafted WRs this year will pan out. Cobb and Nelson are both special players with great track records, but it is not hard to envision one of the two being allowed to walk. You can't pay everyone, especially when you already have a lot of money tied up in #12.

MarkinMadison's picture

I don't necessarily disagree with anything you are saying, but my gut is that the Packers let this thing play out. Adams could easily be the #2 after this year. Also, ig Cobb has another major injury - which would not be shocking given his size, then his value drops. I think the Packers can live without Cobb if Cobb doesn't like their number.

tm_inter's picture

Just to set the record straight, Nelson was born on May 31, 1985. He will be 29 in two weeks and will be 30 before the NFL starts in 2015. Of course, he can still play for a few more years just like Donald Driver did for the Packers.

Evan's picture

I'd have no problem giving Nelson 4 years.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, Do you really think GB-TT is going to pay Jordy or Cobb 10 mill a year?? I believe TT will do everything he can to sign both, but I'll be surprised if it's that much. I think they both deserve it, but that would be a stretch, based on the past. Wasn't GJ's 10 mill only for 1 year??

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

I thought they only offered GJ's 10 mill, a 1 year franchise thing. I guess I was wrong. I think if they guaranteed Jordy more than 2 yr's, he'd probably take 6-7. 24 & 4 yr's, That might put him in FA. I don't think they'll guarantee more than 20 over 2, or am I off?

HankScorpio's picture

I would be inclined to see if one of the two bites at a smaller number, say 4 yrs,$24-$28 mil. At least right now. Right now, the Packers have all the leverage and that is a LOT of money. They have Rodgers, a nice draft class and a tepid FA market for WRs of late on their side. Nelson's last deal was around $14 mil (I think) and Cobb is on a rookie deal for far less.

IF neither bites AND they both play well AND they don't get hurt AND these younger guys don't pan out, the leverage could change and the Packers might need to overpay. But that's a lot of ifs.

HankScorpio's picture

If offering Nelson the paltry sum of $8 mil per year is "unfair", then I gladly plead guilty to being unfair. If Nelson "has" to get $10 mil, I wish him the best of luck on the open market. It's not been kind to WRs so I think he'll need all the luck he can get.

IMO, the major cap allocation for the passing game is tied up with the QB. The passing game will go as he goes anyways. The identity of the pass catchers is a secondary issue. That has been proven time and again with elite QBs. If the Packers recent past isn't enough, just take a peek at the guys Manning, Brees and Brady have been throwing at. It's a revolving door yet those guys still perform.

And really, paying a guy for past performance is piss poor cap management. You pay a guy for what he's expected to do in the course of the contract, not what he did on the last one. That may suck for Nelson (and it may not) but he's hardly been mistreated too badly. His last contract was more than most people make in a lifetime. At their respective ages, it's a lot closer call between Nelson and Cobb. Cobb is still ascending. Nelson may not yet be descending but he's at the age where that must be considered.

Olympique_Packers's picture

I think if we look at the recently signed contracts by WR it's where we can kind of pinpoint how much both Cobb and Nelson should get.

Last offseason Victor Cruz signed a 5yr/43M 15M guaranteed. Victor Cruz is a heck of a player that the Giants move around all over the field, he's an effective and shifty reciever, kind of like Cobb. Cruz signed this at age 26 coming of 2 very good seasons. Cobb is a less proven player than Cruz, and he doesn't salsa dance as effectively. Which would lead me to believe Cobb would make little less than Cruz and might want to add a 6th year added on the contract due to age. I would think Cobb could be a cap hit of around 4-6M in the begining and at the back-end of the contract be around 7-8M. I don't think Percy Harvin is an appropriate measuring stick for Cobb, the Seahawks WAY overpaid for him. Even the Vikings wouldn't have given him that much, and that's really saying something.

Now, let's look at Jordy Nelson. Let's cross Mike Wallace's name off the "recently signed #1 WR" off the list. Dumb move by the Dolphins, the Packers won't sign a WR that much mney and Nelson wouldn't expect that much either.
Greg Jennings is a pretty good measuring stick, both are expected to be #1 WR, their age at the time match up and they were both Rodgers "go to" guy. Now, Stroh, you've talked about Jennings enough that I don't want to repeat. Nelson is a much better player than Jennings and he hasn't had his big pay day. Nelson has been underpaid for far too long and a lucrative 4yr deal is only fair. With that in mind let's look at Dwayne Bowe :

Bowe Signed a contract last offseason as well at age 28, Dwayne Bowe is viewed at the Chiefs true #1WR. Similar to how we view Jordy Nelson. The difference is that Dwayne Bowe has 2 very good seasons and the rest are "meh" whereas Nelson when healthy puts up very good numbers.
Now, let's look at the contract :

5yr/56M 20M guaranteed, damn that's a big contract for a pretty good player. The Chiefs in my humble opinion way overpaid. The cap hit averages around 11M over the 5years, in 2015 he's a cap hit of 14M.
That's a mighty big number for a guy who is arguably a far less superior #1 receiver than Jordy Nelson (even though #12 is throwing the ball).

I would think that Nelson would and should get around 8-10M average and on his last year get a higher base salary that pushes the hit number to maybe 12M (that way on his last year the Packers could elect to cut him to limit the cap hit).

If Nelson gives the Packers a hometown discount (which could happen) he could get a contract similar to what the Jets gave Eric Decker a couple of months ago to be their #1 WR, which is 5yrs/36M 15M/guaranteed. Now that I'm writing this I could actually see Cobb signing a contract similar to this one, even though it feels pretty hefty for Cobb.

All in all I think there is room to sign both players to long term contracts, Nelson could get 4 years and still get a crack at another contract in FA and Cobb is the Packers most dynamic young playmaker at the WR position he's a priority in my opinion and GB has the room to take an average of 4-6M cap hit.

As writing this, I see that apparently Brandon Marshall has signed a 3ys/30M contract. He just turned 30.

Olympique_Packers's picture

I think they were betting a lot on the Bowe - Smith connection when they payed Bowe all of that money. Not a smart move. He was paid as a top end #1 receiver which he is not, I agree. We'll see how all of this pans out and how they structure each contract but since the salary cap keeps increasing they'll probably back-end Nelson's contract as much as possible.

I mean, Tramon Williams is taking 9.5M off the cap this year, Nelson IMO is as if not more important to this team right now.

HankScorpio's picture

As writing this, I see that apparently Brandon Marshall has signed a 3ys/30M contract. He just turned 30.

Brandon Marshall is flat out a better player than Nelson. It's not even close.

Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade Nelson for Marshall straight up. With Rodgers pulling the trigger, I'll take Nelson's locker room superiority over Marshall's superior talent.

But for me, this contract means $8 mil might even be too much.

4thand1's picture

I don't agree. No Packer receiver will put up 100 + receptions in GB the way they spread the ball around. If Marshall was in GB he'd be whining about not getting the ball enough. It's not uncommon for Rodgers to complete passes to 10 or more players a game.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, I agree with you 4 yr 36 mill & 18 mill guaranteed. What I meant was, maybe Jordy would take less per year with more guaranteed. My thoughts were 4 yr's 28 mill & 24 guaranteed. I would think Jordy has 4 good years in him.

4thand1's picture

I'm sure Rodgers will have some say. It would be in their best interest to keep him happy.

HankScorpio's picture

Do you mean the Packers? Or Nelson & Cobb?

Either way, you're right.

Icebowler's picture

Does anyone know who their current agents are?

Jordan's picture

The Packers have the money to sign both players (Cobb and Nelson). What's all the hubbub?

Nelson will probably get something averaging 7.5 million with 15 guaranteed. Essentially a two year deal as far as guaranteed money, but I suspect they'll give him a 4 year deal overall. Years 3 and 4 are irrelevant since they won't be guaranteed.

Cobb will probably get 4 million average over 4 years.

Packers/NFL salary cap is going up in 2015. The CBS deal alone will add 4 million.

MarkinMadison's picture

Cap goes up. Same number of players. Salaries go up. Simple supply and demand.

bluskerj's picture

I called this before the draft. Although I thought they would take a guy like Evans before he shot up the draft boards, or a guy like M. Lee/Beckham. This is absolutely intentional by TT. He's a guy that is alwasy thinking 1-3 years ahead. And by virtue, it provides him leverage. If you ever want to know who TT will target in the draft, first look at who will be FA in the year or two following the draft. Especially at the WR position. See the selection of Cobb if you need an example. Driver, Jennings, and Jones were all FA, on the verge of FA or retirement.

The TKstinator's picture

I absolutely disagree that this is some kind of "subtle message". It is merely TT managing the roster.

4thand1's picture

Exactly, they'll sign Nelson and Cobb, have veteran leadership, and some really good YOUNG developing WR's. Rodgers will make them all better, just like he did Jennings, Jones, and Finley.

ron7's picture

Nobody is talking about Boykin. I think Boykin is due for a big year. I would like the packers to sign him to a contract before the year starts. I think a 3 year contract in the $5-6 mil range would be fair and something he would accept. Love that guy.

TommyG's picture

They need to sign him before he has that big year or we wont be able to keep him.

MarkinMadison's picture

If you believe that they re-sign Nelson and Cobb, then you have to wonder how much $$$ they can put into the position with the addition of three rookies. If Boykin gets done, it will be an extension on the cheap. He's made himself into a very good player, but you can't pay everybody.

ron7's picture

I think Boykin will be/is better than Jones. He is bigger, stronger, and more athletic. I think the Packers would really regret it if they don't sign him. He would definitely get less than $3 M/year. Rodgers has talked about how insecure Boykin is. That is why I think he would take a reasonable extension. I think he would take $2M/year. That would give him security and he could still hit FA at about 27 or 28. If they wait until after the year, I don't think he will be cheap.

ron7's picture

IF you listened to Aaron Rodger's show, you would know about Boykin's insecurities. He joked about Boykin's always worrying about being cut, even after being a productive player.

Boykin's is much bigger and more powerful than Jones and he catches everything.

I think you are of the opinion that Boykins is just a guy. That is where we differ. I think he will be a very good WR in the NFL where as Jones was just a decent player. Right now he is probably perceived around the league as not in Jone's class and that is why he can be had cheap.

I would give it a 50/50 chance that Adams is ever as good as Boykins. To draft Adams and just say that the Packers basically don't need Boykins, even for a very reasonable amount makes no sense. It only makes sense if you don't think much of him or if he is over priced.

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Stroh, Just as an opinion, I don't want to see GB let Boykin go. In fact, I don't want GB to let any WR's go. I'd even like to get Finley back, & give him another year, & you know I wasn't a fan of Finleys, but he is still young. I don't want to argue the JK thing, but he would go before any of our WR's. Somehow we need to keep what is left of our Receiving Core in tact. I've never really paid too much attention to Boykin, but most people, including you seem to think he's pretty good. We need to find a way to keep every Good Receiver we have. JMO

HankScorpio's picture

I like Boykin too.

But it is premature to extend him. He's entering year 3. He's got 2 full seasons before he is eligible for FA. The decision on whether to extend him and for how much is an issue for next offseason. When they will have more certainty about the status of Nelson, Cobb and the 3 rooks they just drafted.

lucky953's picture

Don't know what they would pay. You guys seem to have some reasonable numbers. What this does though is give the Packers options. If, supposing that Nelson or Cobb decides to walk for $, there's a very good chance they'll have a younger, cheaper guy to take his place AND they'll have a decent compensatory pick. It's how the " modern" game is played. They do it as good as anybody.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Nelson is a legitimate #1 receiver, ranking well above average for a #1 WR. He should have some money in the bank. IMO, I expect his contract to be for 4 years at $11 million or so average, with 45% guaranteed.

The NFL has no love for slot receivers. The 2 big FAs last year got around $6 million. With an increased cap, IMHO, I expect Cobb to get around $7 - 8 million per year average, up to 5 years, with 30 to 40% guaranteed. He is still on his rookie deal. He knows that he can get hurt. Maybe GB is sending him newspaper clippings of how Mark Tauscher got hurt right before he was due to sign a good-sized contract, and IIRC, never did get that big signing bonus.

Don't agree that TT is sending any message to Cobb or to Nelson. In fact, it may be that GB is waiting to see if Cobb is fully recovered (but they might know already). TT has a history of re-signing his own talented core players if they aren't too old. Cobb is 23. Nelson is younger and a bit better than Greg Jennings, who was offered an extension.

I don't see any WR on the roster that is a real threat to become a #1 receiver any time soon. Maybe Dorsey and Janis have the physical talent. Every year teams take a flyer on size/speed prospects, of whom a few develop into players, but most don't. I don't see anyone who seems ready to replace Cobb in the slot this season, but there might be some candidates who could be serviceable. TT is managing his roster, but GB needs the top end talent to complement Rodgers.

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