Category Archives: Salaries

28

June

Cory’s Corner: Colt Lyerla worth the risk for the Packers

We’ve officially reached the dead point of the Packers’ season.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as undrafted rookie. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Colt Lyerla was taken by the Packers as an undrafted rookie. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds in addition to a 39-inch vertical.

You won’t see oversized guys moving in fridges and TVs into St. Norbert College dorms until July 25, so this is when things start to slow down a bit.

But until that day approaches, one of the most important positions heading into next season is tight end. And with Jermichael Finley’s status still uncertain, despite his nameplate still being attached in the locker room, the that job looks to be wide open.

And the more I examine it, why can’t Oregon standout Colt Lyerla be the next sure-handed tight end target for the next generation? He’s got impressive raw ability, has a knack to get open, maintains soft hands which is helpful for tough grabs in traffic and at 6-foot-4, 247 pounds, he has the frame that will keep on the field on running and passing downs.

Everyone knows that Lyerla left his Oregon teammates early last season and also pled guilty to cocaine. But during his two-and-a-half years in Eugene, he played for two head coaches, which isn’t exactly easy for any kid, let alone one that saw his parents divorce at age 9.

The Packers can give something that Lyerla has never had before or has never taken advantage of before: A proven, successful structure and an ear to listen. More than anything, Lyerla needs to be placed into a routine that works to give him confidence, which will earn him trust with Aaron Rodgers. And also he’s going to need to be able to find players on the team that will allow him to explain where he’s coming from, which will allow Lyerla to trust his teammates.

Lyerla has shown off his athleticism to the Packers this spring with amazing leaping catches that have even wowed some members of the defense. He’s got the ability. There’s no doubt about that, which is why he made The Play of the Week on SportsCenter in high school.

Amazingly enough, Lyerla is a lot like Finley when the Packers drafted him as a 21-year-old in 2008. Finley had plenty of physical attributes and filled up a scout’s notebook with superlatives, but he also publicly criticized one of the best Packers passers of all-time and didn’t accept his role on an offense that had lots of firepower.

---- Get AddToAny
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.

4

June

The Contract Conundrum of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb

The Packers are a passing team first and foremost, and Ted Thompson has taken Ron Wolf’s lamenting to heart and has always made getting weapons for his star quarterback a priority.  Whether its drafting or resigning his own, Thompson has always made a big effort to keep talent at the wide receiver position, which can’t be said for some other positions like center.  However, next season presents a unique set of challenges, namely having both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb both enter free agency by the end of this season.  While the Packers do have a relatively healthy salary cap it will be quite interesting to see how Thompson and lead negotiator Russ Ball deal with both Nelson and Cobb, who while playing the same position are almost two polar opposite players.

Jordy Nelson has been consistently one of the better wide receivers in the league, ranking as high as 2nd last year according to Pro Football Focus; he’s probably best suited for the perimeter and can use his size and deceptive speed as a deep threat for Aaron Rodgers. He’s also going to be looking for a big contract after taking a below market deal as he knows this will probably be his last big contract.  Randall Cobb on the other hand is a multi-purpose weapon that does a variety of things well, he’s a prototypical slot receiver but also has great versatility and can play running back and return kicks.  Cobb’s is likely looking to capitalize on his success early after missing out on the big money due to being picked in the 2nd round and also being in the first class under the new CBA.

I think the biggest problem with wide receivers is that there are so many of them and there are a lot of ways to be a good wide receiver.  If you think about quarterbacks, there are only a couple really great quarterbacks and they all share a lot of common traits like accuracy, poise, intelligence and arm strength.  Wide receivers on the other hand come in all shapes and sizes; Calvin Johnson plays very differently from Wes Welker but both are great wide receivers in their own right.  Some are fast, some are quick, some a big and some are small.  Does it make much sense for Randall Cobb to be looking at Calvin Johnson’s contract?  Sure they play the same position, but Johnson has such a different game it’s hard to justify using that as a contract bench mark (ignoring the fact that Johnson or Suh have the most ridiculous contracts of any player on the NFL).

28

May

How Much is Jermichael Finley Worth?

“In my mind he is a Green Bay Packer — hopefully, he is going through a tough medical situation. I think we all recognize that it was a serious injury. My understanding is he is doing everything and beyond to get himself ready. We’ll continue to watch that.” – Mike McCarthy, SiriusXM Radio

Well that’s interesting.  As most of you are quite aware, the Packers are a fairly conservative and tight lipped organization so Mike McCarthy actively wooing Jermichael Finley back might actually have some deeper meaning to it.  Add to that the Packers have reportedly left Finley’s locker room open during the offseason (which is a big deal since the roster limit is at 90 and some players are already have their lockers in a adjacent room) and it is starting to look like the Packers are doing the full court press to keep Finley in the Green and Gold.  But how much money would it take to keep Finley a Packer and how much would the Packers be willing to fork over?  On one hand Finley has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the league but on the other he’s been wildly inconsistent and now has to worry about a neck injury that left him paralyzed on the field and a cervical fusion surgery that has a iffy prognosis for playing football again?  In the NFL, contracts are weighed by how they stack to other contracts at the position so its good to see what the tight end salary landscape. (contract values courtesy of Over the Cap).

Top 5 tight end average yearly salary – $7.604 million: Keep in mind this number is likely to skyrocket very soon because Jimmy Graham is currently the 5th highest paid tight end, but he’s on the tight end franchise tag at the moment and if arbitration rules in his favor this could rise to as much as $12.312 million; which is probably a moot point either way because the Saints are going to make him the highest paid tight end in the NFL at some point, eclipsing Rob Gronkowski’s $9 million dollar average.  There’s essentially no way that Finley is going to get anywhere near this range, while he has the physical tools to match the production of Gronkowski or Graham, he’s never actually done it and his neck injury was serious enough that no team was willing to take their chances on him during the offseason so far.   Players in this range are Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis and Jason Witten; obviously Gronk, Graham and Davis are better tight ends and Witten and Gates have been consistent enough producers to warrant their high price tag.

10

May

Cory’s Corner: Davante Adams has top Packers grade on Day 2

Davante Adams had an NCAA-leading 24 touchdowns last year for Fresno State.

Davante Adams had an NCAA-leading 24 touchdowns last year for Fresno State.

The Packers have one of the best receiving tandems in the league in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

However, after that is a big question mark.

Which is why the Packers went with Fresno State wideout Davante Adams with the 53rd overall pick. But Adams isn’t just going to push Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 job. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 6-foot-1 wideout, who led the NCAA with 24 TDs last year, win the third receiver job — which is pretty important in the Packers offense.

Even though Randall Cobb went down with a broken leg and only played in six regular season games last year, James Jones still racked up 93 targets.

Adams comes from a pass-happy Fresno State offense that was led by the strong arm and quick release of Derek Carr — two qualities that Aaron Rodgers has. And he also proved that he can stretch the field with 18 plays of 25 yards or more and 37 plays of 15 yards or more.

The reason I like Adams is because he was also a star basketball player growing up. He understands not only how to get open but how to stay open. That box-out mentality is something that Rodgers is really going to love when those two get on the same page.

Davante Adams: B+

 

Khyri Thornton (grabbing jersey) only had a 1/2 sack for Southern Mississippi last year.

Khyri Thornton (No. 98 grabbing jersey) only had a 1/2 sack for Southern Mississippi last year.

Seeing as how the Packers signed B.J. Raji to a one-year $4 million prove-it contract, after turning down a long-term deal for $8 million per year, the defensive front is a question mark.

If Raji has a big year, how motivated will he be to come back to Green Bay? Will he come back to the Packers on a hometown discount?

Just to protect themselves, the Packers made a nice insurance move and picked the very versatile Southern Missippi defensive tackle Khyri Thornton with the 85th overall pick. I say very versatile because he can play anywhere on the defensive line, which is great for a guy that “Flies all over the field,” according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

6

May

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson averages a draft whiff a year

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

This will be Ted Thompson’s 10th NFL Draft as the Packers general manager. He has been arguably the biggest lightning rod for criticism over the years.

There is inherent value in every round of the draft, but the most consistent value lies in rounds 1-3, which is where I also focus my attention.

Thompson did a masterful job early on. When you land a guy like Aaron Rodgers as your first pick to begin your new job, things are looking pretty good. He added safety Nick Collins and wide receiver Terrence Murphy, who were both forced to leave pro football early after suffering neck injuries.

The next year, Thompson did another excellent job by adding fifth overall pick in linebacker A.J. Hawk, second rounders in guard Daryn Colledge and wide receiver Greg Jennings and third round guard Jason Spitz. The only guy that was a question mark was third round linebacker Abdul Hodge because injuries forced him to only start one game in four NFL seasons.

But after hitting so many home runs in his first two seasons, Thompson was due for some whiffs. And that’s exactly what happened in 2007. Justin Harrell, arguably the worst pick of Thompson’s career, started just two of 14 games in his three-year career. It was a little head scratching that the Packers even used a first round pick on Harrell, who entered the league hurt after tearing his biceps at Tennessee.

Brandon Jackson is another strikeout. The former Nebraska track star/football player was able to play bit roles but is now looking for a job. James Jones gave the Packers a good return on its third-round investment. He proved he could start but was never capable of winning the top receiver job. The final whiff of 2007 is Aaron Rouse. The safety played just three seasons before signing with the now-defunct United Football League.

The following year, there were two more whiffs sandwiched in between a couple of home runs. Obviously, second rounder Jordy Nelson has carved out a pretty nice career as one of Rodgers’ go-to targets. However, second rounder Brian Brohm, after not being able to get comfortable with the speed of the NFL game, is now playing quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. The other miss was second round cornerback Patrick Lee, who only started one game in his Green Bay career. The other great get that Thompson secured was third rounder Jermichael Finley. Although his mouth got in the way early on, Finley was one of the most athletic tight ends in the game when healthy.

30

April

Breaking Down Matt Flynn’s Contract

Matt Flynn led a fiery comeback for the Packers. And in some ways, the tie is a win.Coming into the 2014 season, many fans placed backup quarterback as the top priority of the offseason.  It’s easy to see why, the Packers were a drastically different (i.e. drastically bad) team after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle and it was only some late season heroics from “Plan F” Matt Flynn that the Packers even had a chance at a playoff run at the end of the season.  The Packers cannot expect to get so lucky that the Bears, Vikings and notably Lions happened to be even worse in 2014 and one of the quickest, most efficient fixes that can be made is having a viable backup quarterback on deck in case something happens to Rodgers again.  Keep in mind, Rodgers is now at higher risk of breaking his clavicle again (which is part of the nature of the injury) and is already at risk of concussions (which he has had a history of in the NFL), so it’s not a wasted effort to have someone ready right now.

In a previous article I have argued that after the initial rush of free agency, it didn’t make any sense to not resign Matt Flynn as quickly as possible.  As a 6 year veteran, his minimum contract was around $730,000, which is fully un-guaranteed and with offseason rosters being expanded to 90, theres no reason to not “waste” a spot on another quarterback in the offseason.  Furthermore I argued that should the Packers feel Scott Tolzein or any rookie quarterback was a better option, they could cut Flynn with basically zero penalty.  Commenters argued that it was possible that it was actually Flynn who was holding up negotiations as he was waiting until after the draft or hoping for a camp injury in order to get a better deal.

Well the financial details of Flynn’s deal were finally made public and I will say that I was a little surprised by the specifics, especially considering the scenario that occurred (more on that below). Below is some 1-year contracts signed by established, veteran backup quarterbacks in 2014:

  • Mark Sanchez (PHI) – $2.5 million total, $750,000 guaranteed, additional $2 million incentive clause
  • Shaun Hill (STL) – $1.75 million total, $500,000 guaranteed, additional $500,000 incentive clause
  • Tavaris Jackson (SEA) – $1.25 million total, $1.25 million guaranteed, additional $750,000 incentive clause
  • Matt Flynn (GB) – $970,000 total, $75,000 guaranteed, additional $100,000 incentive clause