The Packers elected not to use their franchise tag on Randall Cobb, meaning he won’t be in line for a salary of $12.823MM for the 2015 season. However, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cobb’s price tag in free agency may approach that figure. A source tells Silverstein that word going around at the NFL combine among league executives and personnel staff suggested Cobb’s asking price is up to $12MM per year.
A report a couple weeks ago suggested that Cobb would be seeking $9MM per year, which I said at the time would be reasonable for the Packers. That would have put Cobb in line with No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson, who is earning just under $10MM per season. If Cobb’s asking price is up to $12MM though, it makes sense that Green Bay would allow the wideout and agent Jimmy Sexton to explore the open market. While Cobb certainly wouldn’t be easily replaceable, he’s not as crucial to Green Bay’s offense as Nelson or – of course – Aaron Rodgers, and investing significant money in him would limit the club’s ability to add talent elsewhere.
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. Still, those numbers likely wouldn’t look quite as good if he weren’t catching balls from arguably the best quarterback in the NFL. 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.
While Cobb may not ultimately land $12MM per year, his best chance of doing so should come on the open market. There are several teams with a need at wide receiver, and many of those teams have a ton of cap space available. One club to watch would be the Raiders — GM Reggie McKenzie was in the Packers’ front office when the team drafted Cobb in 2011, and only Jacksonville has more projected cap room than Oakland this winter.