What is Randall Cobb Worth?


So Jordy Nelson inked a new contract, and the logical next move is to sign Randall Cobb as well, right?

All the fans seem to think so, and so does Mike McCarthy, saying on Saturday "Randall's an excellent football player and you always want to see your guys get paid and you continue to grow with them."

The only person who doesn't seem totally on board with a lucrative extension is Randall Cobb himself, who insists the hasn't quite done enough to merit an extension.

The question, then, is how much is Randall Cobb worth? If Jordy Nelson gets four years and $39 million, what does that mean for a guy who's nearly as productive, but several years younger?

Cobb's injury last year clouds the picture a little bit. He was on pace for a huge year, but missing 10 games put a huge damper on his statistical production. Cobb likely hasn't reached his full potential, which again makes the calculus on a new contract complicated.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that Cobb had played a full year last year. His six game statistics (31 catches, 433 yards, four touchdowns) project to an elite season: 82 catches, 1156 yards, and 11 touchdowns. That's basically what Jordy Nelson put up last season, and it netted him a pretty hefty extension.

That full season would have put Cobb among the elite performers for the last two years. Combined with his 2012 performance (80 catches, 954 yards, eight touchdowns), Cobb would have had a two season total of 162 catches, 2110 yards, and 19 touchdowns. I set search terms approximating those totals (160 catches, 2000 yards, and 15 touchdowns) and ran them through the Pro Football Reference database to see who else has recently produced at that level, and the list was pretty short:


In terms of contract comparisons, there's a few names we can eliminate right away. Jimmy Graham obviously isn't a good comparison, because he plays a different position entirely. Calvin Johnson goes too, because he's a transcendent talent in his own category. Brandon Marshall is a long-tenured veteran with a symbiotic relationship to Jay Cutler, so he's going to get absurd stats anyway.

From there, though, we start to get an idea what Cobb could make. Welker signed a two year, $12 million deal with the Broncos, and given his age, that probably sets the floor of the market.

On the top end, Dez Bryant is reportedly seeking a deal in the $12 million per year range, and A.J. Green will probably command at least that amount when his turn comes, with Demaryius Thomas probably sitting about even with Bryant.

That brings us to Eric Decker, who may give the best model for what Cobb could expect to see in terms of a contract. Decker signed with the Jets for five years and $36.25 million, with $15 million in guarantees. That works out to a tidy $7.25 million per year, a reasonable sum for a guy who's been productive, but still carries some question marks.

Cobb, too, has been productive, but carries his own set of question marks. Most are health-related, which could affect his guaranteed money. But, if his production is comparable, I think a 4 year, $29 million contract for Cobb would be justifiable and reasonable, and it would set him up for a future bank-breaking contract with the Packers.