It’s a big year for the Green Bay Packers, what with two standout wide receivers entering the final years of their contracts.
If it comes down to a choice, Cobb would appear to be the better long-term investment, given that he’s (a) five years younger than Nelson and (b) still developing as a receiver after coming out of college as a quarterback.
Both of them have indicated they’d like to stay and Nelson has a certain degree of impatience about it.
“Obviously, you want to get it done as soon as possible,” Nelson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week. “But there are a lot of other people that are involved in that.
“It’s a process and we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes. I guess I’m more focused on hoping it gets done before we get to that.”
Nelson, 29, is coming off a season in which he posted career highs of 85 catches and 1,314 yards and he scored eight touchdowns, despite playing with four different quarterbacks. Nelson’s yardage total sneaked him into the top 10 in the NFL.
Cobb, who will be 24 in August, is coming off an injury-shortened season in which he made 31 receptions for 433 yards and four touchdowns in just six games. Projected out, that is a pretty successful season: 83 catches, 1,155 yards, 11 touchdowns when pro-rated over 16 games.
In other words, numbers not all that dissimilar to those put up by Nelson in 2013.
Throw in the fact that Cobb, when healthy, had three touchdowns on special teams in his first two seasons and you have a valuable performer.
Last season, Nelson ranked second behind Chicago’s Brandon Marshall in terms of overall rating, according to Pro Football Focus, and had six drops in 120 targets. Nelson’s drop rate of 6.59 (six drops out of 91 catchable balls) tied for 13th-best in the NFL.
Cobb, in his limited time, ranked 33rd on that list, but had just one drop in 40 targets. Cobb did not have enough playing time to qualify for the list on drop rate.
But in 2012, when he was healthy all year, Cobb ranked near the bottom among qualified receivers with 11 drops out of 91 catchable passes, a rate of 12.09 that ranked him 27th among 34 qualifiers.
Nelson is coming off a contract that was a tremendous bargain for the Packers—three years at $12.6 million.
Cobb, on the other hand, is looking for his first big contract as he finished up his rookie deal.
“I’m not a businessman, so I don’t really know that side of that,” Cobb told the Green Bay Press Gazette. “That’s what I have an agent for. That’s for the Packers to decide and to figure out.”
Given the Packers have a former MVP at quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who is still in his prime, it would make sense to lock up at least one, and preferably both, of his more experienced targets.