As I outlined this morning, 2015’s franchise tag period begins today, which means teams will have two weeks to assign franchise or transition tags to potential free agents. One candidate for the tag is Packers wideout Randall Cobb, but Green Bay would presumably much rather work out a longer-term arrangement with Cobb. And according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, early indications are that Cobb will be seeking about $9MM per year on a multiyear contract.
If that is indeed Cobb’s asking price, it should be within reason for the Packers. As Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.com observes (via Twitter), Green Bay signed Greg Jennings to a three-year deal worth $9MM annually coming off his rookie contract, and while salaries around the league have risen since then, Jennings also was a little more consistently productive during his first four NFL seasons than Cobb has been in his.
In his first full season as a starter in 2014, Cobb put up No. 1 receiver numbers, totaling 1,287 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns on 91 receptions. However, those numbers likely wouldn’t look quite as good if he weren’t catching balls from 2014 MVP – and arguably the best quarterback in the NFL – Aaron Rodgers. As we saw with Eric Decker a year ago, posting huge numbers in a dynamic offense led by an MVP quarterback doesn’t always lead to a massive payday — Decker’s deal with the Jets averaged just over $7MM annually.
In Cobb’s case, the Packers also have to consider the presence of Jordy Nelson. Nelson is more of a traditional No. 1 wideout than Cobb, and he signed an extension last year for four years and $39MM. As I wrote in December, Green Bay may want to keep Cobb’s deal in line with Nelson’s or slightly lower, so a $9MM annual salary would fit that criteria.
While it doesn’t appear that talks between the Packers and Cobb’s camp have ramped up yet, the two sides will have a couple weeks before the team needs to make a decision on the franchise tag. The salary for the wide receiver tag hasn’t been set, but 2014’s figure was $12.312MM, and 2015’s will be a little higher.