With defensive lineman Mike Daniels heading into a contract year, the Packers identified the fourth-year defender as a player they wanted to lock up to a new deal this offseason. However, with the regular season just two weeks away, Daniels and the Packers are “far apart” on extension negotiations, according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Daniels, 26, became a starter on Green Bay’s defensive line last season for the first time, and responded with an excellent year, compiling 47 tackles and 5.5 sacks. According to Pro Football Focus’ data (subscription required), Daniels was the league’s eighth-best 3-4 defensive end, recording a grade of +18.8, which placed him right between Jurrell Casey and Haloti Ngata.
Set to earn a base salary of $1.542MM in 2015, Daniels is seeking a significant raise on any new deal. Per McGinn, the former fourth-round pick is looking for a salary in the neighborhood of $10MM annually, while the Packers have made multiyear proposals averaging “several million less” per year. With the two sides in disagreement over Daniels’ value, negotiations recently broke off, though they could resume at any time, since the Iowa product has indicated he doesn’t mind negotiating into the regular season, writes McGinn.
$10MM per year for an interior defensive lineman with just one season as a starter under his belt may seem excessive, but recent extensions for similar players suggest Daniels could make a case for such a salary. Corey Liuget and Cameron Heyward recently signed five-year extensions with the Chargers and Steelers respectively for annual salaries of $10.25MM+, and Daniels’ reps may point to those players as comparables.
On the other hand, the Packers could point to players like Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga, who have recently signed new below-market contracts to remain in Green Bay, and argue that to keep the team’s core intact, Daniels and other players may have to be willing to accept similar deals. If Daniels doesn’t see it that way, and the Packers are reluctant to increase their offer substantially, the team may have to decide in 2016 whether to franchise the defensive lineman or let him walk — and I expect the franchise tag would be a little too pricey for the team’s liking.
Still, there’s plenty of time before that point to agree to terms on an extension, so we’ll see if the two sides can bridge that gap in the coming weeks.