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Green Bay Packers Have Major Decisions to Make at Receiver

James Jones

We’ve noted this several times, but we’ll note it again. James Jones is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The Green Bay Packers have more decisions than that to make about their receiver position though.

What we haven’t noted is that Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson will be entering the final year of their contracts in 2014.

So, if armageddon comes, the Packers could be down to Jarrett Boykin — from this year’s receiver group — by 2015. Now, we highly doubt it will come to that, but clearly there are some important decisions to made.

The first decision is whether or not to re-sign Jones. That should be dictated largely by the market.

Jones is coming off a three-year deal that averaged a little over $3 million per season. He’ll surely be looking for a raise this year.

Jones has been fairly productive since signing his last deal. He led the NFL in touchdown catches (14) in 2012 and set a career high in yards in 2013 with 817, despite missing two games.

The downside for Jones is he’s not a No. 1 receiver and he’ll be 30 in March. Those two factors alone should keep his price fairly reasonable. Our estimation is Jones will ask for $5-6 million per season and the Packers, if they engage, will want to come in around $3-4 million.

As always, the market could take the Packers out of the picture entirely. It happened when the Vikings decided to overpay Greg Jennings last offseason.

The bigger issues will come after next season, when both Cobb and Nelson are set to be free agents.

We fully expect the Packers to make every effort to sign Cobb to a new deal before that happens. Even though he only plays in the slot, Cobb is entering the prime of his career and is an offensive weapon the likes of which not many teams have.

Ultimately, the question is what kind of money will Cobb command?

If you’re looking for a similar player, we’ll point out that Wes Welker’s last contract averaged $6 million per season. Welker, of course, is nine years older than Cobb. That alone could add another $1 million per season to Cobb’s next deal.

As for Nelson, he’s been a total bargain for the Packers. Nelson signed a contract extension before he was set to become a free agent in 2012. The Packers were able to lock him up for a little more than $3 million per season.

All he’s done in the three years since signing the extension is put up two 1,200-plus yard seasons and 30 touchdowns. If Nelson hadn’t missed four games in 2012, he might have had another 1,000-yard season.

Nelson will be 30 prior to the 2015 season, but he’s established himself as a clear-cut No. 1 receiver.

These four guys are in the same age range as Nelson will be when he becomes a free agent and they all made at least $9 million this past season — Andre Johnson (32), Larry Fitzgerald (30), Brandon Marshall (29) and Santonio Holmes (29).

I’m not suggesting the Packers will fork over that much, but that’s what the market tells us a No. 1 receiver on the cusp of 30 is going to get paid.

In all likelihood, Green Bay will have to lock up Nelson with an extension prior to him hitting free agency if they want any shot of keeping him.

That bring us full circle back to Jones.

As we’ve documented many times, the Packers have a ton of money invested in two guys — Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. That means they have to keep costs down at other positions.

What we’re getting at is the Packers simply can’t afford to have three receivers getting paid top dollar. We know they’ll pay Cobb after the season. We would think they’d want to pay Nelson (if they can afford him).

And while we’re sure they’d like to find a way to pay Jones too, we just don’t see how it can happen. That is, unless there’s no market and Jones comes back on the cheap.

That seems pretty unlikely.

More realistically, the Packers have to look at drafting another receiver this year. Guys playing on rookie contracts come cheap.

Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. Remedy January 23, 2014

    I’ve always liked Jones. Saw the potential, then watched as he struggled through his drops issues, then worked to fix them (went as far as talking to himself before plays), then lead the fucking league in TD’s

    But if he wanted to get payed the big bucks, he shouldn’t have let passes bounce off his fucking face against San Fran. That shit was terrible

    Hopefully he learned from the Greeeg Jeeenings debacle and decides to take a little less money to be on a good team, with the best qb in the league. If not, he’s as good as gone because there’s tons of teams out there that could really use him

    On the topic of Jordy and Cobb… uhh… I’d really rather not think about that. They’re going nowhere, I feels it in mah bones

    1. Phatgzus January 23, 2014

      Agreed, I can still remember his first preseason when he got wide open on a streak down the right sideline and dropped the pass-could tell he had talent but be was gonna have issues.

      I dun think Jordy and Texx are going anywhere either-they like GB, winning, and A-Rodge too much to leave for a few extra mil.

  2. K.L. January 23, 2014

    I don’t think Jones is worth keeping for big money. I think Boykin easily replaces him and we can always get a couple receivers in the draft.

  3. Kris January 23, 2014

    If Clay Matthews continues to get hurt, we need to start looking at saving some money and pursuing other options. While he is the best player on our defense, that is not saying a whole lot (and quite frankly, I saw Johnny Jolly as our best defender this past year). His greatest asset is working twists and stunts; his one-on-one battles usually favor the offense (and sometimes against no-name tackles); and his injuries are making it really frustrating to see so much money go to waste. I think the juice-use is starting to catch up to him.

  4. Phatgzus January 23, 2014

    Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Snatonio Holmes-hmm, one of these is not like the others, can you name which one?

    1. The Money Mike January 24, 2014

      Would that be Holmes my good man?

      1. Phatgzus January 24, 2014

        10-4, good buddy, SanAntonio Holmes it is. Congrats! Your prize is a job as the J-E-T-S’ new QBs coach or Browns’ 2015 head coach-your choice.

  5. Savage57 January 24, 2014

    Remember “Lurch” from The Addams Family?

    When I think about the Packers WR contract quandary, that’s the sound that escapes me.


    1. Phatgzus January 24, 2014

      LMAO, I almost choked on my spaghetti, thanks for that.

  6. Iltarion January 24, 2014

    You guys have selective memories. What I remember is 2007, James Jones beating Champ Bailey for a 73 yard TD strike, which was basically our entire offense in that game until overtime.

    I remember him catching Aaron Rodgers’ first TD pass as a starter against Cincy in the first game of the preseason 2008. He took a big hit from the safety, lost his helmet, and still rumbled his way to the endzone.

    I remember him making a ridiculous catch over Brent Grimes to put the Packers ahead to stay in the playoff game against Atlanta, and I remember in 2011, Jones breaking open tight defensive games against Atlanta and D-troi by hauling in long touchdowns on the deep slant.

    In short, as I’ve been saying for 7 years now, all this guy has done since he showed up was make a TON of big plays. In the true vein of Donald Driver, he has always been underrated because he wasn’t a high draft pick and isn’t “explosive.” He is also a great frickin locker room guy who has never complained.

    Jones should get $6 – $8 mil a season elsewhere, and the Packers should extend Nelson and Cobb, regardless of the cost. Since we won’t be paying Finley $8 mil, we’ll have the money to throw at someone else.

    1. Phatgzus January 24, 2014

      I love JJ-his personality and ability- and I remember those plays vs. the Donkeys and ATL as well as all of last year’s gems (against NOLA and AZ for example), also remember him dropping a would-be TD on the biggest stage, in XLV. He’s incredibly talented (probably a number one for at least half the League) but I think EDS should be getting the money-I just think he has more value to the team.

      Besides, we have DD 2.0 to take his place. Boykin’s already made some great plays (TD vs. the Browns, 2 fantastic sideline catches); mark my words-you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  7. Don Q January 25, 2014

    Boykin will definitely help fill the gap if we lose Jones. You can’t forget who’s slinging that ball, Rodgers can make good recievers look fan-fucking-tastic.

  8. rebelgb January 25, 2014

    Iltarion has his usual love affair with a 2nd rate WR in Green and Gold. James Jones disappeared during the last 4 games of the Packer season, especially via playoffs, or does Iltarion not remember that? Go to players show up when you need them and Jones was nowhere to be found against San Fran.

    Iltarion also thought Antonio Freeman should become one of the highest paid WR’s in football and be the Packers #1 WR. I told him this was a fantasy but did he listen? No. He has the same diluted love affair with JJ. $6-8 Mill a year? Who the hell is going to pay JJ that? Imagine JJ on a team with any other QB other than Manning, Brady, or Arodge and tell me what you think that guy is worth?

    Pay Boykin, pay Cobb. Im gonna hold onto the belief that because Jordy is white, and he knows the market will fuck him, and white guys like to stay loyal and close to home, he will sign for much less than he is worth. If not, let him go. When Arodge is slinging it, any decent WR can be as #1 in our system.

    1. Phatgzus January 25, 2014

      In JJ’s defense he did have broken ribs for the last 3 games; he still shoulda made that catch vs. SF.

    2. Arcturus January 27, 2014

      As much as I detest much of rebelgb’s sometimes blatantly racist bullshit, I must agree with him completely about Jordy’s options and motivations.