Jordy Nelson takes a hit against the 49ers. He is the toughest and most consistent Packer. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Green Bay Packers: Can they afford both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb?

Wide receiver was a position the Green Bay Packers needed to address in the NFL Draft … and boy, did they ever. Drafting three wideouts came as a surprise to nearly everyone on the planet – I mean, they already had Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykins in the house.

But we all know that Nelson and Cobb are both entering the final year of their current contracts and both have earned huge paydays.

The question is whether the Packers will reward two of their most productive players with new long-term contracts or whether they might string things along, sign one of them and see where the chips fall with the other.

Nelson, who is just on this side of the age of 30, has established himself as the team’s number one receiver, with Cobb on his heels. One of the upsides for Cobb is that he is just 24 years old and seemingly poised for an incredible run in this league. Should it be with the Packers?

Who can forget some of those sideline catches by Nelson or his chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on those back shoulder throws?

Who can forget the image of a wide open Randall Cobb with less than a minute to go against the Bears last December?

General manager Ted Thompson surely has seen these players work and has to come up with an answer on how to proceed and do it soon.

Every Packers fan wants the team to re-sign both of these players and to do it now. After all, the Packers still have around $15 million in salary cap room.

Even after the team signs all of its draft choices and free agents, there will still be around $12 million in the kitty.

But in this day and age of huge salaries and signing bonuses, that could be sucked up quickly. And don’t think that the agents for both Nelson and Cobb didn’t watch closely as Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall re-signed for around $10 million per year. He set the bar pretty high.

Randall Cobb catches a pass over the middle against the 49ers in 2012. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Randall Cobb catches a pass over the middle against the 49ers in 2012.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

So, does TT go the route of re-signing one of these guys and let the other’s contract run its course? Does he let both play through the 2014 season and then address the issue on the other end when they head toward free agency?

Should they let both of these guys play in 2014 without  renewal they run the risk of one or both of them bolstering their stock with breakout seasons. TT has always been known for re-signing players before they hit the market with contracts that don’t break the bank but keep them happy and in Green Bay. One only needs to look at Jordy Nelson’s first re-signing a few years ago. The Packers got a number one wide receiver at a bargain basement price.

Don’t expect that to happen again with Nelson.

On the flip side of that, one can look at Greg Jennings and B.J. Raji – both were offered generous contracts before they reached free agency and ended up settling for less – far less – than the Packers had originally offered. Jennings ended up taking a couple of million less per year to sign with the Vikings two years ago and Raji ended up with a single-year “prove it” contract from the Packers this spring after being offered $8 million to sign last fall.

No doubt Nelson and Cobb watched those situations unfold.

How will they proceed?

Carefully.

I’m sure they also watched as the Packers filled their receiver depth chart with quality players through the draft. Competition is always good and will surely abound when the team hits the practice field in a few weeks.

Second round choice Davante Adams is expected to push Boykins for the number three spot, while Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis provide the team with depth

Jordy Nelson looks to the best spot for a Lambeau Leap after scoring a touchdown against the 49ers in 2011. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Jordy Nelson looks to the best spot for a Lambeau Leap after scoring a touchdown against the 49ers in 2011.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

they haven’t seen in a couple of seasons.

So, let’s play general manager for a minute – what would you do? Do you re-sign Nelson and Cobb immediately, expending all resources to do so? Or do you play the free agent system, let them continue through 2014 without new contracts and address the situation when free agency rolls around in 2015?

If you let them ride it out, it gives the team time to continue to develop the young guys and start a new era. If you sign them, the team is committed to the current regime – which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about the need to re-sign Nelson and Cobb. That need was lessened after the team stocked up on wide receivers in the draft.

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how this all plays out.

Stay tuned …

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Tags: Green Bay Packers Jordy Nelson Randall Cobb

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