The Green Bay Packers may have to chose between Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson this offseason.
With Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson entering contract years in 2018, the Green Bay Packers may need to cut one or both receivers in order to create the cap space required to give Aaron Rodgers a mammoth contract extension that should make him the highest paid player in the NFL.
Freeing up some cash to improve a defense that ranked 26th in the league also seems like a wise move.
While the least likely outcome is that both fan favorites will return as targets for Rodgers, it would also come as a shock to see neither one retained by a franchise that’s been known for its depth at receiver since the mid-’90s.
The most probable scenario is that new GM Brian Gutekunst will be tasked with making a tough decision between the two.
Drafted in 2011, Cobb gets the edge where youth is concerned. He’ll celebrate his 28th birthday in August. Nelson will turn 33 in May. Wideouts who justify earning nearly $10 million a year at age 33 are not unheard of, but they’re rare.
Overall production favors Nelson, however, and by a wide margin. Whereas Cobb has exceeded 1,000 receiving yards in just one season, Nelson has accomplished that feat four times–and as recently as 2016 when he totaled 1,257.
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Nelson has also topped 10 touchdowns on three occasions, including 2016. Cobb has only done that once, when he caught 12 TDs in 2014.
As for their marks in the 2017 campaign, when Davante Adams emerged as the team’s premier receiver, Cobb accounted for more yards and receptions, but one could argue that Brett Hundley replacing No.12 and his broken collarbone for over half the season was a huge reason why Jordy struggled to post a mere 482 yards on 53 catches.
It’s very telling that all six of White Lightning’s scores through the air were thrown by Rodgers.
The case for keeping Nelson is tempered by the troubling trend of his yards per catch, which have been declining since 2014 (15.5 Y/C), down to last year’s underwhelming 9.1 Y/C. While Cobb has never been the deep threat that Nelson was in his prime, his yards per catch average has been steadier.
The best way to solve the dilemma probably lies in the past. The Packers parted ways with Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings after the 2012 season. In his final three seasons, his production declined. Jennings is now 34. He’s been retired for two years.
While the choice may seem like a coin flip and both players have earned legacies in Green Bay, retaining Cobb and (sadly) cutting ties with Nelson is probably the decision to make.
Cobb is younger, and he’s always been more of complementary receiver who can move the chains, whereas Nelson would have to adjust into that role as the team and its receiving corps move forward.
It won’t be easy to say goodbye to either player, but either Cobb or Nelson could very well suit up for a different team in 2018. Pack fans will owe that man a sincere “Thank you, and please don’t sign with the Vikings.”