Sunday, March 08, 2015

A Tale of Two NFC Teams: Packers Sign Cobb, Lions Lose Suh

Throughout the 2014 season, I wasn't concerned about WR Randall Cobb's impending free agency. He's a Ted guy (great player, great locker room guy) and Ted keeps those players after their rookie contracts. But as it got closer, and closer, to the start of free agency with no deal in place, and a massive amount of free agent dollars looming in the coming week, pessimism set in and I was worried he'd leave. It's looking like the dollars might be too much to keep RT Bryan Bulaga, but they did keep Randall Cobb.
The Packers probably got Cobb to stay for millions less than he would have received had he waited a week and talked to other teams. Making $10 million a year is a lot, but making $12 million (that's $2 extra million per year!) is still a massive chunk of change, if he could have gotten it. He should be set for life anyway, but he's really giving up something that might never come around again for him in his lifetime.

I guess I shouldn't ignore the new contract for QB Scott Tolzien, so here it is! He's not very good, but he's OK which is really all that can be expected from a backup. And at $1.35 million he's cheap relative to a lot of backups. I don't see why it means the end for Matt Flynn, who could be brought back on a similar one-year deal without causing any problems with their salary cap. He's essentially the 53rd man on the roster, which is usually someone the Packers pay the minimum, but after watching the backup disaster of 2013, they do need to pay some type of premium just to make sure they have a competent backup (or two) in place.

On the other hand, the Lions bungled their salary cap and are expected to lose Ndamukong Suh to the Dolphins. While keeping Cobb is a bigger deal, it's still notable that the 2nd best team in the NFC North is losing one of the best players in their franchise's history while he's in the prime of his career. The Lions were offering a serious contract ($17 million per season, $58 million guaranteed) but the Dolphins apparently can and will offer more. The Lions defense last season was their strength, and it's a major blow to lose their best defensive player. Even worse, their other top defensive tackles (Nick Fairley and C.J. Mosley) are also free agents, who might now be overpaid to stay. It's hard to imagine the Lions will be better in 2015 without Suh, while the Packers got better during the 2014 season (Rodgers's calf injury excepted) and could enter 2015 in great shape for a title run.

It's hard enough to win in the NFL, but it's great to see the Packers are well run, unlike some of the other teams (Lions!) in the NFL. They could have survived without Cobb, but I'm a big fan of wide receiver depth and it's very important for their offense.

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