Well I was wrong about the signing bonus for WR Robert Ferguson, who I thought would receive a signing bonus slightly lower than the one given to Cleveland WR Dennis Northcutt ($2.25 million) back in May, but the Packers blew past that amount and gave Ferguson a $3.5 million signing bonus.
The Packers are paying for what Ferguson can become and not how he has performed over the last two seasons. If the Packers are paying Ferguson how he has performed over the last two seasons, his contract should have been similar to the following three offseason signings. WR Dez White signed for 2 years and $2 million total contract with Atlanta after catching as many TD passes and more receptions over the last two seasons in Chicago, and White is the same age (24) as Ferguson. Minnesota signed WR Marcus Robinson for a $2 million signing bonus after he caught 6 TD passes over the last 5 games in 2003 for Baltimore. Northcutt has caught far more receiptions for more receiving yards over the last two seasons, same number of TD catches as Ferguson, plus he established himself as one of the more dangerous return men in the NFL, but Ferguson received 50% more in signing bonus than Northcutt.
On the other hand, the New York Jets paid WR Justin McCareins a $7 million signing bonus after he broke out with 7 TD receptions in his third NFL season with Tennessee in 2003. Although McCareins had a great 2003 season, the New York Jets are paying him for what he could do over the next few seasons based on 2003 and his physical abilities. Similarily the Packers are paying Ferguson based on a solid 2003 season and what he could do over the next few seasons.
Overall, the Packers paid a premium based on Ferguson's past performance because they expect him to improve next season. He didn't improve much from 2002 to 2003 and he has had trouble staying healthy, so right now his contract extension looks like a risk.