When Brandon Marshall signed his new three-year, $30 million extension live on the View last week, he not only secured his future with the Chicago Bears but also helped set the market for pending free agent Jordy Nelson.
While there's never a perfect one-to-one comparison between receivers, Marshall and Nelson's respective age (30 and 29 on May 31), size (6-4 and 6-3), and 2013 production (1,295 and 1,314 receiving yards) make their futures similar enough to draw the parallel.
While the exact breakdown of Marshall's deal remains unconfirmed, the extension includes a whopping $23 million guaranteed figure or 76.67% of the total value. Like Marshall, Nelson enters 2014 in the final year of his current deal. As such, he possesses similar leverage with Green Bay as Marshall did with Chicago.
Compared to other contracts for top receivers, Marshall's contract falls in the high-medium range cost area, something the receiver clearly traded for the security of the huge guaranteed figure. The Packers tend to shy away from such deals, favoring a "pay-as-you-go" model. Julius Peppers' recent three-year, $26 million contract is a prime example as it carries only $7.5 million in guarantees, meaning he can be cheaply jettisoned after one year if the Packers decide to move on. In a vacuum, Green Bay would prefer to give Nelson a similarly structured deal. However, the trade off for lower guarantees is higher salary, and the Packers have plenty of other mouths to feed in the coming years.
The more likely scenario For Nelson's extension is a deal that averages slightly more than Marshall but doesn't come close to the guaranteed dollars. An agreement of similar length to the Marshall contract including an average salary of $11-12 million would place Nelson at or around the top five at his position and should be enough to drop the guarantees to "only" 33-50% of the total value. Such a contract adequately compensates Nelson while keeping the coffers full enough for future extensions to Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, and anyone else deemed by Packers brass as part of their core.