7

June

Cory’s Corner: Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb?

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has expiring contracts after this coming season. Given a choice, I would rather have Nelson.

Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb has expiring contracts after this coming season. 

This is a debate you will not see Aaron Rodgers commenting on.

The one deciding between his favorite targets: Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. It’s like a parent trying to pick their favorite child.

Nelson is heading into the final year of his team-friendly, three-year $12.6 million deal – a contract that made him just the 27th-highest paid receiver. The six-year pro finished last season with career highs in receptions (85) and receiving yards (1,314). He is one of the most sure-handed receivers in the league, making those tiptoe, sideline grabs look second nature.

Nelson made his case for big money stronger last season on the field, while Cobb and Jermichael Finley were hurt. Defenses were zeroed in on stopping the 6-foot-3 wideout and couldn’t do it.

Cobb, on the other hand, is one of the most dynamic players in the game. He’s right up there with the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy in that category based solely on versatility. His four-year, $3.209 million rookie deal from 2011 obviously needs to be sweetened. What helps Cobb, despite last season’s injury, he has proven his durability.

He played in 15 games his first two years in the league, before being limited to six games because of a fractured right fibula last season. The 23-year-old came back strong in the regular-season finale and the playoff game against San Francisco.

According to overthecap.com, the Packers have an estimated $13.9 million of cap space for 2014. Barring some unforeseen circumstance, the Green Bay would like to lock up at least one of the receivers before the start of the season.

But who?

Judging from the career arc Nelson has taken from year four to year six, Green Bay needs to place a priority on Nelson.

There will likely be comparisons to Greg Jennings, the most recent Green Bay receiver to hit the open market. The biggest difference between the two, however, is that Jennings’ last season with the Packers was as a declining injury-prone 29-year-old, not an ascending 28 year-old.

It could also be argued that Cobb is still trying to find his niche on the team. In 2012, he had 10 carries for 132 yards in addition to fielding 31 punts and 38 kickoffs. He wears so many hats for the Packers, his potential as a true No. 1 receiver are yet to be seen.

You just don’t see No. 1 wideouts do what he’s doing. You don’t see the likes of A.J. Green on punt or kick return teams. Even lowly No. 1 receivers like the speedy Torrey Smith aren’t on return teams. Why? Simple: The Ravens aren’t risking their No. 1 threat in the passing game to get destroyed trying to return a punt.

But Green Bay has that luxury.

Rodgers has had a strong stable of receivers dating back to Donald Driver and continuing with Nelson and Cobb. Last year proved that without Cobb and Rodgers, the offense could still get chunks of yards because of Nelson’s crisp route running and vise grip hands.

Rodgers has said that Cobb can be a 100-catch receiver. Cobb is a man-to-man matchup nightmare. His ability to find another gear was evident against the Bears and 49ers in last year’s final two games (4 catches, 106 yards, 2 touchdowns).

The problem for Cobb lies with his role in the offense. Arguing his contract worth is one similar to what Jimmy Graham is having with the Saints right now. The All-Pro tight end is stating that he should be paid receiver money. Could Cobb’s camp argue that he should be paid like a receiver and then some because of his usage as a running back and returner?

Who to pay, however, seems simple. Nelson is fast becoming a master of the position. Amazingly, he was just 23rd in targets last season, behind guys like Mike Wallace and Julian Edelman, yet still ended 10th in receiving yards. Heading into last season, Wallace was rewarded with a five-year, $60-million deal — a contract that Nelson should easily bypass.

Cobb has shown that he can do many things well, but he isn’t on the level of being a bona fide No. 1 receiver, yet. Then again, he’s only 23 and, while trying to master the receiver position, he’s asked to do so many other things.

Maybe the decision isn’t so simple, after all.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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41 Responses to “Cory’s Corner: Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb?”

  1. JimR_in_DC says:

    I would have to prioritize which of them to sign first. They both bring huge value to the team. I’d try to rework Rodgers’ contract or maybe one of the other players to improve how much cap room is available. Then, try to get both receivers re-signed before the season starts. I’m no GM, so my thoughts on this are probably unrealistic. I hope it all works out well. Go Pack Go!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    • JimR_in_DC says:

      My first sentence should have read “I would hate to have to…”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Nick Perry says:

        Rodgers is only in the 2nd year of that contract Jim, is it possible that they can even rework his contract already?

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        • Stroh says:

          Why would they bother? Its a pretty favorable contract for the Packers and all it would do would vastly increase future cap numbers and cause problems in the future. Its why Chi had to release Peppers he renegotiated 2x I think and his cap number ended up being 18M last year.

          Its what the Cobgirls did w/ Romo to the point they had to give him yet another bloated contract. Hell The Cards are going to lose Fitz cuz they’ve constantly renegotiated w/ him to get cap room.

          The Packers don’t need the cap room so why redo Rodgers contract. Get Nelson done soon or during the season and then Cobb next offseason.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  2. packett says:

    embark on signing the elder, more veteran first, otherwise risk setting up bad dynamics of a receiver ready to be rewarded for the body of work. If you can’t strike that deal, then work on Cobb. If you can get a deal, then work on Cobb, because it gives you a base of where to establish value in Cobb, because you now know the role in the offense with the other piece; i.e. Nelson. Get both signed, but don’t overpay. Approach it to be very fair, but just tad lean.

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  3. tim says:

    I agree with the comments Jim. The key is reworking or shedding other players contracts. These two are really key to team success. Who on the team may be willing to extend in order to maintain a relatively high salary, or to help the team out? Who is paid really highly, and maybe overpaid for their work. candidates? Maybe tramon Williams, Brad Jones, Hawk or even Arod or Matthews. I keep coming back to Williams. He did play really well down the stretch last year, but his performance over the last couple of years has been really iffy, he’s getting older and he’s paid a ton. Maybe a candidate for extending out a contract to benefit both parties over the next couple of years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    • Stroh says:

      Tramon comes off the books after this year. And if they re-sign him it’ll likely be a team friendly deal. No reason to renegotiate anyone, between the money they have now they can get Nelson done and next offseason w/ Tramon either gone or at a lower salary along w/ another cap increase they’ll have room to sign both. Nelson this season and Cobb next offseason.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  4. Big T says:

    Show them the money! They both have proven they deserve it. It can and will be done. Just think TT wanted to give Raji 8 million and he can’t find his azz with both hands. These 2 fellows play like every down is their last one. Make it work TT or expect a swift kick to the ding ding…

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  5. Rossoneri83 says:

    THE PACKERS HAVE THE MONEY, SIGN THEM BOTH NOW. As the article noted, all of these younger WRs have potential, but are unknowns. You want proven guys who you drafted, developed and have the chemistry with Rodgers. I could understand why Driver, Jennings and Jones were let go, but no way could I understand letting Cobb and Nelson walk!

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    • Nick Perry says:

      Totally agree with that, I couldn’t understand letting either walk. I could see Thompson getting Nelsons deal done and if he absolutely had to, put the Franchise Tag on Cobb next year. Williams won’t be making 9 million after this year, that I think we can safely assume. TT is a master with working the cap, the best in the NFL IMO. He’ll find a way.

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      • Rossoneri83 says:

        Good point. Tramon’s had some great moments, but he certainly is not worth the $9.5M cap hit he brings this year. Like you said, the franchise tag should be a last resort for Cobb. For WRs this year, it’s $12.132 million. I don’t think TT could stomach that.

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        • Stroh says:

          They won’t use the Franchise tag on Cobb. They can probably sign him for about 1/2 the 12M your talking about as a franchise tag. That would be a colossal waste of money.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

          • Nick Perry says:

            What would be a “Colossal Waste” is losing Cobb. Besides, it would give the Packers additional time (July 15th) to get a long term deal done. The goal isn’t keeping him 1 year, it’s getting a long term deal done.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

            • Ed Schoenfeld says:

              The reason you don’t use the franchise tag is that doing so sets the average salary for the long term deal. I’m sorry but you don’t just say ‘lets spend $12 million a year’ on a player you are hoping to sign for $8-9 million.

              The reason you do might Cobb first is he is the most likely to get crazy money offers if he hits free agency in 2015. I don’t buy the ‘let’s not reward future expectations’ argument — every contract you do rewards ‘future expectations,’ there is no guarantee that any player will live up to any contract.

              That said I do think you *talk* to Jordy first, at least enough to set up approximately what both sides expect from the deal. It may be something the team can get behind right away, or you may find out Jordy prefers to test the market looking for a big payday. He is well positioned to do so.

              If he does get a pay day north of about $10 million a year, then you say thank you and good bye, and draft another receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round next year. The team’s salary cap integrity is worth more than a single player, except maybe Aaron.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

            • Stroh says:

              No ones actually talking about losing Cobb. That’s extremely unlikely… I would say signing him is as close to 100% as any of us can say. Using the franchise to sign Cobb would be a huge waste cuz you can sign him for much less, not just to keep him in GB.

              Thanx Ed for explaining what I considered obvious.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

    • Bart Vanden Plas says:

      Wow, that’s great to hear that the Packers cap is totally fine, all the way out 5-10 years to the point that we can spend $15-20M/yr on two receivers. I’m pretty sure it comes down to a choice by Management. A tough choice, but better than selling out the team in the future.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Savage57 says:

    To quote a line from ‘Highlander’, one of the most horrid movies of all time, “there can only be one”.

    THE reason the Packers drafted 3 WR’s is because TT knows that the probability of carrying two $8-10MM per year cap hits at the WR position is zero.

    Tough quandary, but given what we’ve seen of these two over the past three years, I stay with Nelson due to his gonzo body control, deep speed and chemistry with AR. Cobb probably has a longer upside, but his skill set seems to be more prevalent in coming players.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  7. WKUPackFan says:

    If Mike Wallace is on your team and he’s higher than the 23rd most targeted receiver you know your team is in trouble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  8. Since '61 says:

    Both should be resigned. Nelson and Cobb bring different skill sets to the Packers’ offense. Nelson, is a tried and true professional receiver who knows the offense and clicks with Rodgers. Cobb is a more diverse threat as he can be both a receiver and running back and maybe even throw an option pass from time to time. Cobb is kind of like a modern Paul Hornung, but the lite version. (he doesn’t kick) He is very good at getting open and he runs well after the catch. I am an advocate for keeping this offense as intact as possible so I would like to see both resigned even at the risk of losing other players. After this season we may lose Raji and T. Williams. That leaves us room to sign Nelson now and Cobb in the offseason. We’l see. Go Pack! Thanks, Since ’61

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • Rossoneri83 says:

      Well said! Tramon Williams has a $9.5M cap hit this year and will be 32 in March 2015. I doubt he’ll be back and that should free up enough space. For the most part, TT does a real nice job managing cap space and structuring contracts like Rodgers’ to be cap friendly.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Big T says:

    As great as Cobb has been, he is just getting started. He has a lot of awesome left in the tank. Jordy is Jordy, you know what your going to get, consistent awesome play. You have to get both of them locked in and happy. TT go out and get it done.

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  10. Cow42 says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  11. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    I’d approach Cobb first (before the season starts). His injury, while unfortunate and clearly not an indictment on his durability, did hammer his stats last year.

    If you wait until the middle or the end of Cobb having an all pro season (which IMO is likely), he’s going to cost as much as Harvin and Cruz (who are both WAY overpaid). That’s too much for a slot guy.

    It’s harder to find the size/weight/speed combo that Nelson provides outside the numbers, but he’s already at his value peak – nothing will be hurt by signing Cobb first except Jordy’s ego. He’s a big boy and a team player – he can handle the business side of the league. Singing Jordy in November vs now will only cost slightly more money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  12. Tarynfor12 says:

    Cobb is going to get his big payday with his ‘next’ contract not this one.No reason he doesn’t accept a nice three extension leaving him at 26-27 years of age for his next monster deal if he lives up it.Nelson has done the very same thing and is now due his deal.
    Nelson needs be first and Cobb second and if he doesn’t understand he hasn’t achieved that status yet..oh well,see ya.

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  13. AP 28 says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  14. mike says:

    see here is the thing they need to ask will either be a elite wr for another system. let us look at jennings so many of the fans said he would bite us in the behind he had a really bad year even with 3 different qbs at the vikings. what about james jones he is going to a unknown system where he might not shine. the reason our wrs look so good to other teams is because aaron makes them look good. i think ted knows this thats why he is not afraid of letting them walk he knows without aaron they are not really game changes. cobb i dont think will do good out o the system but jordy is a genetic freak the way he cathes the ball i i think out of all our wrs he is that one that can go to a place with a really bad qb and make the qb look good . nelson had 4 different qbs and still somehow managed to shine better than 60% of all the wrs . if you can catch that sloppy ball from wallace and make the high catches tolzien threw and the floaters of matt flynn then you know you have a wr that is a future hall of famer thats the ones you keep at what ever cost

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Brad says:

    It comes down to the money. Jordy will be 30 when next season starts. TT has already shown that he isn’t going to break the bank on a WR over 30. Unless Jordy wants to sign a short extension, 2-3 years, I think he will be gone. TT drafting 3 WR’s spoke volumes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  16. bobalou13 says:

    Don’t understand anyone taking the position that Nelson is the higher priority. What have you seen TT ever do that would make you think he would sign a 29 year old in preference to a 23 year old. That is dreamland. They will sign Cobb to a 4 or 5 year deal, and try like crazy to get Nelson to agree to another relatively modest 3 year deal. Just hope for the best.

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  17. It might just be me, but when one talks about a true #1 receiver, I don’t think of a slot receiver. True #1 WR means to me at least an outside receiver. The NFL has no love for slot receivers, and values that position less than outside receivers. I also think that restructuring any player’s contract to free up cap space is a bad idea. This should only be done if it results in a pay cut. AROD’s and CM’s contracts are pretty team friendly and should not be re-done just to kick the cap hit down the road. Also, while I have trouble believing TT would use the franchise tag, it would make far more sense to use it on Nelson than on Cobb. Nelson will probably command $9 to $11 million yearly average, while Cobb will only command $7 to $9 million. The franchise tag at $12.132 million thus would overpay Nelson by 2 or 3 million, which is less than the 4 or 5 million for Cobb.

    Now, for the point of the article: Can GB afford to resign both Cobb and Nelson? Yes, but only with some difficulty and some risk, by which I mean that GB would have to count on young players to develop and replace highly paid guys, and for the cap to increase.

    Using overthecap.com, here are the projected increases in cap #s between this upcoming season and 2015 for selected players: AROD ($750K), CM (1.75M), Peppers (8.5M), Shields (3.5M), Sitton (350K), Lang (700K), Burnett (300K), B. Jones (825K), Neal (500K), Quarless (500K), Worthy (188K) – Total increase for those players is $17.863. I expect that all of those players except perhaps Worthy (who might be gone this year), Peppers, Hawk or B. Jones, are likely to be with the team in 2015.

    Here is a list of notable players with expiring contracts after this year with their 2014 cap #s: Tramon (9.5M); Lattimore (1.43M); Bush (2.0M); Raji (4.0M); Sherrod (2.1M); Guion (985K); Bulaga (3.829M); Nelson (4.375M); Cobb (1.021M). The total is $29.34. Clearly, GB will want some of these players back, some at much higher cap #s (Nelson, Cobb and to a lesser extent, Bulaga), some at lower #s, and for some it will depend on how they play and how rookies and young guys develop. Another large increase in the NFL’s team cap number would help.

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  18. Archie says:

    TT offered GJ $9.5MM to stay and he didn’t like him compared to Jordy. Anybody that find $10 mm/YR to keep Hawk around will have no problem ponying up for Jordy. Cobb is a different story. His being younger cuts both ways. Demanding top dollar with such a short resume will not work for TT. Cobb will have to be happy with 6-7 mm/yr for now or he will be toast.

    Supply of WRs has never been greater. Will be tough for guys to get the big #s going forward. Just keep grabbing good young WRs in R2 for a pittance. Got to put our money in defense going forward but Jordy deserves his payday.

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  19. Rob says:

    No need to “prioritize”. It’s very clear they are both very important but the Packers could get by with just one. So, pursue both in parallel and, if it works out, make them both offers simultaneously. They Packers get leverage from the fact that the first to take the offer gets it…and the 2nd may not have the same options and is more likely to need to wait a year or move on.

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  20. Stroh says:

    If there is a priority it should be Nelson. He can play any WR slot of the field and is a legit #1 WR, of which there are about 15-20. Cobb, as much as we all love the guy isn’t a #1 WR, he’s a terrific slot WR.

    My definition of a #1 WR being a player that can line up at any WR position and produce among the best in the NFL and be counted on to be a playmaker at any WR position. Nelson fits, Cobb doesn’t. That is no knock on Cobb, its just true. Cobb is among the top few slot WR in the NFL but he isn’t a #1 WR.

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    • bobalou13 says:

      Some people, in Buffalo for example, think a slot guy can be a #1 receiver. They gave up next year’s first round pick, in all likelihood a top 10 pick, as well as a 4th round pick next year, to move up just a few choices for Sammy Watkins. He will be, more or less, a slot receiver.

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      • Stroh says:

        Sammy Watkins is not a slot WR. He’s both bigger and faster than slot WR. He’s 6’1 210 w/ top end football speed to take beat a defense deep.

        “A legitimate No. 1-caliber receiver”

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    • That is a good definition of a #1 WR. Nelson played well from the slot last year. Reluctantly, I would prioritize Nelson over Cobb because it is much harder to find outside receivers. I do think there is enough cap room to sign both if the estimates of their probable contracts are in the ball park. IIRC, CBSsports’ draft profile of Watkins was that he was good against press coverage and could play outside, in the slot, and in the backfield.

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      • Stroh says:

        Yeah Watkins will be able to make plays no matter where he lines up. IMO that makes him a true #1 WR in the NFL. CBS compared him to Torrey Smith of Balt, but w/ Harvins unique ability to shift gears and accelerate.

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  21. Tracy says:

    I think the whole point of this article was; if you could only pick one, which would it be?
    I love Jordy. He’s an awesome receiver, and an even better person, but I have a feeling we still haven’t see Cobbs full potential. He played some QB in college. Just once I would love to see him throw on a reverse play to see how he does.

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