Following the Packers' decision not to apply the franchise tag to Randall Cobb, questions arose over what the receiver desires in his next contract. With a week remaining before the official start to free agency, there isn't one clear answer.
In mid-February, a report from ESPN's Rob Demovsky suggested that Cobb was shooting for a deal averaging $9 million per year. That seemed in line with our estimation that a top-shelf slot receiver would max out at the 2015 equivalent of Victor Cruz's contract, which averages $8.6 million annually.
But as the calendar moved closer to free agency, new reports emerged. Last week, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora suggested that the Packers had determined Cobb too expensive to retain and had moved on to negotiations with Bryan Bulaga and Letroy Guion. Then on franchise tag deadline day, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote that word around the NFL combine was that Cobb was seeking a deal worth $12 million per year.
One can read the La Canfora report as an attempt by Cobb's agent Jimmy Sexton to apply public pressure to Packers GM Ted Thompson to strike a deal and the Silverstein report as the front office's counter move. Certainly, fans did not respond positively to the idea that the team had given up on re-signing Cobb. At the same time, few believe a slot receiver of any quality is worth top-three wide receiver money. Assuming both reports were meant to calibrate expectations of the fans, the truth is probably somewhere in between.
And indeed, there is another report from the tag deadline that places Cobb's price tag well below $12 million annually. Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette cites a league source who expects Cobb's market to fall "between $8 and $9 million per year" with an outside chance of that number moving to $10 million on the open market. That projection is more in line with the going rate for slot receivers and is one the Packers could realistically consider.
While it's impossible to know the true content of the ongoing negotiations between the team and receiver, it still seems reasonable that a deal could get done before the start of free agency. It also wouldn't surprise anyone to see Green Bay pass on Cobb if he demands elite receiver money. The good news is the truth will reveal itself within the next seven days.