GREEN BAY, Wis. — It might not have come down to Jordy Nelson versus Randall Cobb, but the net result of the Green Bay Packers‘ decision to move on from one veteran receiver should mean security — at least in 2018 — for the other.
In that sense, Cobb came out as the winner on Tuesday, when the Packers cut Nelson.
“I don’t think it has any correlation to that,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said after the Packers released Nelson. “Randall is one of our good players, and we expect him to be.”
It’s possible that Cobb could have been in trouble had the Packers landed one of the top free-agent receivers. They reportedly showed interest in Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins. But Robinson will sign with the Bears and Watkins with the Chiefs when free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Absent the addition of another top-level receiver, Cobb should stick around for the final season of his four-year, $40 million deal. There’s no indication that the Packers will ask him to restructure his contract that will pay him $9.5 million in salary and bonuses this season.
In Cobb, the Packers stuck with a younger player who will turn 28 during training camp. Nelson will turn 33 on May 31. The team chose to keep a more versatile — but perhaps less explosive — player. Although Cobb hasn’t come close to his 2014 production (when he set career marks with 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns), he’s still a multipurpose player who can line up in the slot, on the outside and in the backfield, plus can return punts.
Nelson lost some of the speed that made him so effective as a deep threat, though his size (6-foot-3) made him more effective on the outside than the much smaller Cobb (5-foot-10).
The emergence of Davante Adams as the Packers’ top outside receiver also likely helped Gutekunst move on from Nelson before Cobb. Adams signed a four-year, $58 million contract extension in December.
“I think we’re in the process of that,” Gutekunst said. “We’ll start looking at a number of options. He’s a good player, and those shoes will be hard to fill. But we’re going to work really hard to try to do that.”