The Green Bay Packers kept one of the most important components of their explosive passing game in the fold before the start of free agency by agreeing to terms with receiver Randall Cobb on a four-year, $40 million deal with $17 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports. Cobb, who made his first Pro Bowl at the end of a 2014 campaign in which he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns, apparently preferred to sign with his existing team as opposed to testing the open market.
It's an interesting gambit, given the rumors circulating that Cobb was looking for $10-12 million per year once free agency opened on Tuesday, and that he may have received the high side of that number from any one of a number of teams flush with salary cap space and desperate for offensive weapons. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that the Packers were willing to give Cobb a deal with $9 million per year, but a meeting of the minds evidently transpired before other teams could impact the bidding process.
It's a good thing for Cobb, because the Packers run as many three- and four-receiver sets as any team in the NFL, and they have turned the second-round pick out of Kentucky in 2011 into the NFL's best and most productive slot receiver. In 2014, per Pro Football Focus' charting metrics, Cobb led the league by far in touchdown catches from the slot with 12 (Philadelphia's Jordan Matthews finished second with eight), and his 75 slot catches and 1,067 slot yards also led the NFL. Cobb's deal outpaces the contract given to receiver Jordy Nelson in July, 2014 (five years, $43 million, $11.5 million guaranteed), which is a pretty good indicator of how highly the Packers covet the slot position.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has certainly bought in, calling Cobb a "great teammate," an "excellent practice player," and a developing leader who embodies "what it means to be a Packer" during a Dec., 2014 episode of his weekly radio show on ESPN Milwaukee.
With Nelson and Cobb in the fold as the main men, and youngsters Davante Adams and Jeff Janis set for bigger roles in 2015, one can imagine that Rodgers is a very happy man right about now.
Yes, $10 million a year is a lot for a slot receiver, but when you part out the guaranteed money, it's a pretty reasonable deal, and it's very possible that Cobb took less than he would have received in free agency to stay in a system with an outstanding quarterback who fits his attributes perfectly.