You needn’t perform any RotoViz calculations to conclude that Aaron Rodgers enhances the fantasy value of his wideouts. This is important to remember when assessing the fantasy futures of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb—two of Rodgers’ wide receivers who will be free agents at season’s end.
A scenario where Packers GM Ted Thompson brings back both Nelson and Cobb is not entirely out of the question. Green Bay’s 2015 cap situation is favorable, with just $120,993,304 on the 2015 books and a salary cap that will likely increase from its current $133 million figure. The Packers also have the ability to create more cap space next offseason, with six different guys under contract for 2015 that would save the team greater than $3 million apiece in ‘15 cap space if released.
But even with this strong financial standing, the prospect of a 2015 Packers team containing both Nelson and Cobb is hard to imagine.
Thompson has made a living negotiating team-friendly deals and building through the draft–not overpaying free agents. He signed Nelson to a three-year/$12.6 million extension in October 2011. He let Greg Jennings walk as a free agent in 2013, instead trusting Cobb and undrafted free agent Jarrett Boykin to produce in his place. Thompson would surely love to keep Nelson and Cobb in green and gold for years to come, but likely won’t have that luxury this time around.
With today’s collection of ultra-talented, soon-to-be-free-agent WRs—Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas are set to hit the open market after this season while A.J. Green and Julio Jones will be free agents after 2015—the WR market is set to explode in the near future. You can bet that Nelson and Cobb (and their agents) are cognizant of these circumstances, meaning neither guy will be in a rush to sign a team-friendly extension before free agency.
Thompson is also surely aware of the impending, upward-trending WR market. He has even begun preparing for the likelihood that either Nelson or Cobb will be gone by the start of 2015—he drafted both Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis this past May.
Ultimately, Thompson may very well have to choose between Nelson and Cobb.
Small and shifty at 5’10”/192, Cobb spends almost all of his time in the slot. Neither Boykin (6’2”/217), Adams (6’2”/216), or Abbrederis (6’2”/190) are true slot receivers, so you could make the argument that Cobb fills more of a need for the Packers as currently orchestrated than the 6’3”/217 Nelson (although Nelson does line up all over the formation).
Aside from need—which loses some significance in an Aaron Rodgers offense—there is age and cost. Nelson will be 30 at the start of the 2015 season; Cobb will have just turned 25. Nelson’s agents will be fighting for No. 1 WR money; Cobb aligns with the lesser-compensated slot receiver market.
Still, Nelson has historically been the more productive Packer. He’s formed an unparalleled connection with Rodgers over the past few seasons, and is reportedly closer to signing an extension than Cobb.
Chances are, either Nelson or Cobb is entering his last season in Wisconsin. It’s in your best interests to keep this in mind when making dynasty decisions.