Packers roundtable: What’s next for Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb?

Green Bay Packers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

What’s next for Green Bay Packers receiving duo Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb? The Lombardi Ave staff discuss their futures in the latest roundtable.

Not so long ago Nelson and Cobb formed one of the league’s top receiving double acts.

Three years ago the pair combined for 2,806 yards and 25 touchdowns. No wonder Aaron Rodgers was named MVP that year.

But this year has been The Davante Adams Show. Nelson was a touchdown-machine early in the year while Rodgers was throwing him the ball, but he became a ghost in Rodgers’ absence.

Nelson turns 33 in May. Cobb is entering the final year of his contract, but he will cost $12.75 million to the Packers’ cap in 2018, which is the most of every player not named Aaron Rodgers. Is he worth the money?

What’s next for Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb?

Ralph Mancini: While it’s hard to imagine the Packers going into the 2018 season without one or both of these two stalwart contributors, there’s no escaping the fact that the NFL is a year-to-year business and both of these receivers have underperformed.

ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 22: Jordy Nelson
ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 22: Jordy Nelson /

In Jordy Nelson’s case, his 2017 decline is a bit of a mystery in that he came off one of his best seasons as a pro the previous year in which he not only gained 1,257 receiving yards, but led the league with 14 touchdowns.

Yes, age is a factor in that the sure-handed wideout is 32 years old. But how does a No. 1 go-to target become a virtual afterthought in the passing game almost overnight?

No one outside of 1265 Lombardi Avenue really knows for sure, but a reasonable guess is he may be playing through an undisclosed injury. That can clearly explain why Nelson hasn’t been separating from cornerbacks as he once did and why he’s gone eight straight games with fewer then 40 yards receiving.

It is my belief that the ninth-year veteran will continue being a valuable member of the Packers’ roster going forward and will, as a result, play out his current contract, which run through the 2018 season.

No one on the roster is ready to overtake Nelson as one of the two starting outside receivers and that’s why he will continue being in the starting lineup. However, if he continues showing signs of slippage in September, look for Geronimo Allison or some other younger pass catcher to replace the old war horse.

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Another thought would be to utilize Nelson as the team’s primary slot receiver, where he could use his skills and guile to find openings across the middle and not just rely as much on his diminishing speed.

And that’s where Randall Cobb comes in. The 27-year-old veteran (yes, it’s hard to believe he’s only 27) still has value as an underneath weapon that can chew up extra yardage after the catch. His main issue is consistency.

Cobb’s standout performances have become sporadic and his yards-per-catch totals have decreased in each of the past three seasons. In watching his every game over that period, it seems to me that relying on him to be a weekly go-to guy will only heighten his chances of coming down with an injury.

No. 18 isn’t big or strong. His game is based on quickness, but operating over the middle puts him in danger of being leveled by bigger safeties, as well as linebackers.

I think Cobb stands a better chance of being released in the offseason because of his size and somewhat fragile nature…although I’m not in the least bit questioning his toughness.

To break it down in terms of numbers, I think there’s a 90-percent chance Nelson is back with the team in 2018, while I give Cobb a 50-50 shot of sticking around.

One other factor to note is the influence of Aaron Rodgers, who is a big fan of Cobb and a close friend. But that only goes so far, as we saw when Ted Thompson curiously decided to let Jared Cook walk in favor of bringing in free-agent bust Martellus Bennett in the offseason.

Joe D’Aloisio: Nelson will be turning 33-years-old this offseason and had a down year. You could argue he struggled because he played a majority of the year without Aaron Rodgers.

Before Rodgers got hurt Nelson caught six touchdowns, but once he went down he didn’t find the end zone again.

However, it is evident that Nelson has lost a step. He has struggled separating and getting open. It was clear even in Rodgers’ return against the Panthers that he did not look the same.

The 10-year veteran wideout has one more year remaining on his contract, but his time in Green Bay is up and we have certainly seen the best of Nelson.

As for teammate Cobb, he will also become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. At 27-years-old the Packers could get a couple more years out of Cobb.

Cobb was clearly Rodgers’ favorite target against the Panthers, catching seven passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. His quick slants and speed in the open field still makes Cobb very effective when he gets the ball quick.

When it comes to the wide receiver core, the Packers should focus on re-signing their most talented wideout, Davante Adams.

CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 17: Randall Cobb /

Brad Miller: It’s no surprise that receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb had off years. The absence of Aaron Rodgers for eight weeks and the continued emergence of fellow wideout Davante Adams had an obvious effect on their offensive production.

Going into the 2018 season the possibility of one, or both, of Rodgers’ go-to receivers being gone has been talk around the proverbial water cooler.

Rodgers has been “put on the shelf” for next year so he can heal up and prepare for the 2018 season. Knowing this, Rodgers will want both of his guys (along with Adams) back so he can work towards another postseason run.

That said, what Rodgers wants and what Ted Thompson does can be two different things. What will happen to the two aging receivers that we have grown to love over the last 10 years?

My guess is that the Packers will bring both receivers back and here’s why.

TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 21: Aaron Rodgers
TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 21: Aaron Rodgers /

First off for the reason I gave eluded to earlier: Rodgers likes them and trusts them. He knows that when it comes to making that important catch to continue a drive, these two guys can be trusted.

Second is their familiarity with the offense. They know the drill when Rodgers rolls out of the pocket. Rodgers knows both receivers’ strengths and uses that when he looks for them in any pattern. This is important for the QB and the head coach/play-caller.

If Nelson got the boot any time before he retires there would be public outcry. Packers fans are loyal to guys that are loyal to their team. Both guys have done that but Nelson seems to be a little more beloved than even Cobb.

Can you actually see either guy wearing a different uniform in the NFL? They will be Packers or retire one.

Lastly, their worth on the open market won’t be as big as it would have been a year or two ago. Both are in the waning moments of their careers. Still effective bit not as flashy as they were in previous times.

The demand for their services would be somewhat limited. They would be over-priced and under-valued. Not a great investment if you are looking to throw a lot of money towards a go-to receiver.

Could Thompson move them? Most definitely. If he would part with Brett Favre he sure would let one or both of these guys go.

But I don’t see it happening. I see both guys retiring as Packers, but it won’t be next year… there is some unfinished business they need to take care of.

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I can see Clay Matthews leaving before either Nelson or Cobb. Those State Farm commercials will need some new flair.