Green Bay Packers free agents: Who will walk? Who will stay?

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Randall Cobb helped ignite the Packers’ offense in 2014. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The Green Bay Packers’ 2015 salary cap is dominated by four players: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Sam Shields, who account for nearly half of it.

It’s a good thing having those players around, but for the coming months General Manager Ted Thompson and Vice President of Player Finance Russ Ball will have their work cut out for them as the Packers consider the best options and how to move forward through the free agency period.

Of course, their goal is to field a team with the best players available – but to do it with fiscal responsibility.

The numbers for the salary cap figure for 2015 are not yet available, but the Packers already have $114,262,013 committed to the cap next year.

That number will change depending on any offseason moves.

But with 15 players set to head to free agency within the next month, Packers officials will have to weigh a lot of factors in determining who to bring back next year.

Those four highest paid players look like this as the Packers prepare to enter the NFL’s 2015 calendar year:

With Jordy Nelson locked up for the next three years, as well, most of the talk during the season has been the impending re-signing of wide receiver Randall Cobb.

Though he didn’t want to talk much about it after the Packers bowed out of the Playoff tournament last Sunday, he did admit that “it’s a business,” though he, of course, wants to remain with the team.

With 1,287 yards on 91 receptions in 2014, Cobb turned in a 14.1-yard average per-catch and scored 12 touchdowns on the season. He, along with Nelson and the emergence of rookie Davante Adams, have given the Packers a trio of receivers who could carry the team for the next few years.

He has clearly earned his payday and I would be shocked if the Packers don’t re-sign the budding superstar to a long-term contract … and do it soon before he becomes eligible to join the free agency ranks.

I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who doesn’t think the Packers won’t sign him … I’m sure there are plenty of people across the league who hope they don’t sign him, but I certainly don’t see that happening.

If Cobb – who at 24 years of age – were not signed and allowed to walk in free agency, there would be a revolt in Wisconsin.

Randall Cobb. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

This year he’s probably one of the biggest bargains out there with his $802,355 salary.

Thompson has to be aware that he can’t string Cobb along like he did Sam Shields last year when they signed the cornerback just before the deadline.

So, re-signing Cobb is a no-brainer.

Thompson will get it done.

But for the 14 others on the list, it’s not so simple.

Bear with me as I play general manager and run through the list for my take on who the Packers should keep and who they should let test the free agent market.

Next: Tramon Williams and Bryan Bulaga