Packers Calendar: First Day for NFL Teams to Designate Franchise Players

The Packers may consider placing the franchise tag on wide receiver Randall Cobb, although it's not a given.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb—Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb—Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports.

Happy President's Day. For most people, that probably just means the postal service won't be visiting your residence today. That or you'll be taking advantage of some killer department store sales.

Beginning Monday, NFL teams can begin placing franchise and transition tags on their players.

Such tags are an option for teams to retain a player with whom they can't agree to agree to a long-term extension.

The Green Bay Packers are under no obligation to use the tags, and Monday merely represents the first date they can use it. They have until March 2 to exercise it, and most teams end up waiting until the deadline so they can engage in contract talks first.

Wide receiver Randall Cobb is a candidate for the franchise tag, although both team and player would rather avoid such designation. Like most NFL players, coming to an agreement on a fair and mutually beneficial long-term extension would be preferable.

Although the NFL has not yet announced official franchise tag values, the projected amount from Albert Breer of the NFL Network for wide receivers is $12.8 million. The formula for determining franchise-tag figures is an average of the top five salaries at their respective positions over the course of a number of years. Breer's estimate is based on a $143 million salary cap in 2015.

If the franchise tag were to be placed on Cobb, he would get a fully guaranteed one-year deal from the Packers if and when he signs the contract, preventing him from negotiating with other teams. There would be nothing preventing him from negotiating a long-term deal with the Packers until July 15, however.

The standard for slot receivers in the NFL has been set by Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, who agreed to a five-year, $43 million deal, although most slot types don't pull in nearly that much money.

Another comparison might be the deal inked by teammate Jordy Nelson, who agreed to a deal just this past offseason for four years and $39 million.

On one hand, the Packers may not want to pay Cobb as much as Nelson, seeing as he's not nearly as nearly as experienced or accomplished. But on the other hand, players generally receive contracts based upon their estimated future contributions and not necessarily what they've done in the past.

At 24 years old, Cobb is still quite young for a player reaching free agency for the first time in his career. It's possible he signs a relatively short two- or three-year contract that would allow him to reach free agency again in a few more years and still command a top-tier deal.

The other notable name scheduled to become a free agent for the Packers is Bryan Bulaga, although with the franchise tag value  of $12.92 million for offensive linemen, it's even more unlikely Bulaga would receive the franchise tag.

The highest average salary in the NFL for a right tackle reaches just $7 million per season, according to Spotrac.com.

It's possible there's an NFL team out there that views Bulaga as a left tackle, which would command significantly more money, but it seems unlikely any team is going to want to commit north of $12 million for a player that's never been a full-time left tackle.

The last time the Packers exercised the franchise tag was in 2010 with defensive lineman Ryan Pickett.

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Comments (3)

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HankScorpio's picture

February 16, 2015 at 09:45 am

I'd give Cobb the same contract Cruz got in a heartbeat. With the cap exploding last year and this year (and perhaps into the future), player salary inflation is going to start hitting. It is just a matter of time.

Having said that, I think Cobb would be wise to take the shorter deal for another bite at the FA apple. It's not like the later years of a contract are guaranteed money, like in baseball. It just makes no sense from a player perspective to make that long of a commitment when the team can get out of those latter years by cutting the player. The leverage of freedom gets the bonus roulette wheel spinning. And that's where the money truly is for players.

I do hope the Packers can find a way to get Cobb re-signed. He's a dynamic talent and still ascending. Or at least not anywhere near the time when players decline.

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Evan's picture

February 16, 2015 at 09:54 am

Even with a 5-year deal, Cobb will get another crack at FA before 30.

I have pretty much zero doubt he'll get re-signed.

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Evan's picture

February 16, 2015 at 11:54 am

"Cobb seeking deal that averages $9 mil per year."

http://espn.go.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/18640/packers-trying...

If that's true, the Packers can't say yes fast enough.

That article also indicates that once/if they cut Jones and Hawk, they'll have just over $30 million in cap space. More than enough for Cobb, Bulaga, House, etc...

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