Packers Retain Free Agents: How They Do It

Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson

The Green Bay Packers re-signed Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga over the past week and retained their two most important free agents.  At least that’s what most would agree with.  While both Cobb and Bulaga received healthy contracts, they likely could have garnered more had they chosen to explore opportunities with other teams.

In this current time period where it seems free agents are on the move all the time, the Packers continue to retain their top free agents.  Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Bulaga are a few examples.  Because of the diligent management of the salary cap and a forward-looking mentality, the Packers have not had to trade away nor let go of a player that they wanted to retain.  This doesn’t come without some frustration from fans, at times.  Many have expressed frustration about Green Bay’s lack of activity in free agency, especially the early splash players that typically get overpaid.  The reality is that we can either complain about that or complain about how we aren’t ever able to retain good players or even entertain bringing in new talent from the outside.

I’ll stop short of saying that Cobb and Bulaga are being loyal by taking less money to play in Green Bay.  Consider that NFL contracts are often stated in terms of average salary per year and the total amounts reported often aren’t achieved because a team can cut a player and is only on the hook for the guaranteed money portion of the deal.  Both Cobb and Bulaga stated that they came back because they want to win.  They also probably don’t want to deal with moving themselves and their families (if they have one).  Another factor is the stats that each can rack up over the next few seasons and before they reach free agency again.  Those stats are what will get them their next pay day and that may or may not be with the Packers, but at least Green Bay didn’t have to let go of a prime free agent that they drafted and developed in the prime of their career.

This was a short and sweet piece, but continue the discussion below with your thoughts on the Packers and their approach to keeping their own and fielding a viable roster year in and year out.


Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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15 thoughts on “Packers Retain Free Agents: How They Do It

  1. I’ve said it many times before, no one manages the cap better than TT. At times he drives me nuts with his FA signings every 6 or 7 years, but you can’t argue with success.

  2. While a million or two more per year is nothing to make light of, for most people in Cobb’s or Bulaga’s position, that money won’t make much real difference in the long run. For some players, perhaps what matters more is one’s potential to leave a lasting mark on the NFL. Can anyone really doubt that Greg Jennings leaving for those extra millions also slammed the door shut for the Hall of Fame? He had a real shot at the HOF had he stayed with AR throwing him the ball. Now? He’ll be forgotten the moment he retires. Maybe Cobb and Bulaga want to win and be remembered.

  3. Both great points and thanks for reading! I really wanted this post to be more about discussing between everyone here and hopefully more good input to come.

    As I watch the millions fly and all of the trades (this has to be one of the most active offseasons in recent history!) I know Ted and Russ Ball are chillin out just waiting for the season to start so the Packers can remind everyone how and when winning takes place. It’s not in March.

    The Vikings just added Mike Wallace (yet another trade) and Harvin signed with the Bills. Packers were rumored interested in Harvin but the price tag was likely too high or Harvin didn’t want to compete with Cobb for that piece of the offense. Packers were also reportedly in on the Revis sweepstakes but no way Ted does the deal that got him back in New York. Instead, paid Cobb, Bulaga and will see what else is out there when teams have to dump salary.

    1. I have a very strong feeling that the Wallace signing spells the end for Greg Jennings in Minnesota. I can’t imagine the Vikings having 2 Wide Receivers making over 9.5 million apiece, especially with what Jennings has brought since he left AR and the Packers. To bad Jennings was such a rear end when he left, maybe Ted would have brought him back for the minimum. LOL

      The whole Ted interested in Revis, I just don’t see it. We have $21.5 million left in cap space now, the Packers would have to do exactly what you mentioned they never have to do, cut players to sign or keep someone else. As exciting as it would be to have a Revis on the Packers, they’d suffer someplace else, especially with depth.

  4. I think TT is playing very good people management strategy. If he goes outside Green Bay for free agents now, he loses his best leverage to getting TWill back (or so I imagine). If I was TT, I would be telling TWill, “my next FA signing is you”, and with each passing day with no offers from other teams, I image TWill would see comfort in signing with Green Bay. If that is what is happening, it is a good strategy worth foregoing pursuits for outside FAs to lure TWill back.

    1. I am guessing that TT is trying to out-wait Raji to sign him for say $2 – $2.5 million this yr. and is waiting on Guion’s legal affairs to wrap up.

  5. If this was the 70’s and 80’s Bulaga and Cobb are gone on day one and probably saying horrible things about Green Bay once they get on the plane. Things certainly have changed since 1992. The Packers are not a doormat anymore and are looked upon as a first class organization like the Patriots.

    The main reason in my professional opinion why younger players are accepting less to stay here is due to one guy: Aaron Rodgers. He and Brett Favre before him were keys to keeping this organization a winning one. You have a hall of fame calibur qb who young guys look up too and it’s much easier to retain young ascending players.

    As Joe Blowinski mentioned about Greg Jennings. He took the little extra money and now he’s a nobody on a nobody team. Nobody cares and no more Old Spice commercials. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and his sister had a falling out as well.

    The Packers will continue it’s winning ways as long as they stick to this winning formula. I am assuming Elliott Wolf is taking notes from the living legend Teddy Tee and will carry on this formula once the legend decides to hang it up as I am assuming he’s next in line for the GM. I hope it’s not for a long long time yet.


    1. Let’s not forget about the compensatory picks we’d lose signing by signing unrestricted free agents. Street free agents, like Julius Peppers, don’t count in that equation. I’m not totally sure why, but since it works out in our favor, I’ll roll with it.

      1. The reason the Bears and Vikings won’t get a Comp Pick for Peppers or Guion is they were cut.

  6. I went wrote a post yesterday about the 2016 cap. I am thinking TT can spend about $11 million more at most in FA this yr. That might be Tramon at say $5 million, Raji/Guion at $4 for both, Kuhn and Bush at $2 for both (these guys can be cut if someone pushes them) and a mid-tier FA at $3-$4 million. Don’t see room for a Greg Hardy unless he is cheaper than I think and/or TT things Hardy makes signing Tramon or one of Guion/Raji unnecessary. Wilfork might look nice at NT. What does GB think of Pennel or Boyd at NT? I think Jason’s post (not referring to his article) is probably correct in suggesting that TT and Ball are done except for perhaps Tramon or finding an NT or DE, and perhaps a mid-tier FA like TE Housler or ILB Carter (oops, Carter signed with another team).

    1. I love Housler! The guy ran a 4.46 40 at the combine. Could you imagine seeing someone that fast that’s 6’5″ 252 lbs running up the seam with the WR’s the Packers have? The only bad part is he’s not much of a blocker, at all. But with Richard Rodgers, his blocking really improved last year by years end. I’m starting to think Richardson might take Bush’s spot on ST but that doesn’t help the CB situation does it. Agreed on your thoughts on Tramon, Raji/Guion. One nobody mentions (And for good reason) is Carl Bradford. How perfect would it be if the light came on for him this offseason!

      1. If Bradford is a total bust, I have to eat internet crow. I thought getting him in the 4th (as an ILB, not as an OLB) was an excellent pick.

        Housler has outstanding measurables; 4.55 forty, 37 in. vertical (to go with being 6’5″, and having 34.5 in long arms), 6.90 3-cone (really outstanding), 4.21 20 yd and 11.69 60 yd shuttle are all great – 22 reps on the bench is just fine as well. His draft profile adds that he has good hands, good body control and is fearless going over the middle. He just doesn’t want to block at all. Production is just so-so with 39 Rec for 454 yds. Only 26. He just visited Atlanta. I’d think his price might be 3 yrs., $8 mill, $2.5 guaranteed. Here is one link:

      2. I mentioned Bradford a few days ago. I think the Packers are really high on his potential. If Bradford can just play without thinking this year and use that high energy he’s got like a Clay Matthews or a Junior Seau, I think TT might have struck gold. We’ll see.


  7. maybe Jennings learned a lesson , now he was cut from the Vikings. to bad so sad. oh well, just another day when you do not have a job.

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