The Green Bay Packers do not hand out large contracts often.
Ted Thompson’s team values flexibility with the salary cap, and is cautious when it comes to overpaying players. In order to receive a long term deal, the GM must truly think they deserve it.
But sometimes, those players fail to live up to their contract’s worth. Various factors, including age, injury, or regression, can negatively impact performance. In that case, players no longer seem worth their salary.
For that reason, the Packers should try to restructure the contracts of two of their star players. In recent years, Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb have simply failed to live up to their pay grade.
Let’s start with Matthews.
One of Green Bay’s top linebackers of all time, Matthews elevates the entire defense. Even when he is rendered ineffective, the team’s performance seems to revolve around him. When injuries and poor play racked the inside linebackers in 2014, Matthews moved inside without missing a beat. He immediately helped fix the team.
But injuries have hampered the former All-Pro. He missed a quarter of the season last year, and had a career-worst five sacks. Matthews just didn’t look the same in 2016. When he’s healthy, he can still play like one of the best in the business. But the fact of the matter is that Matthews has struggled to find the dominance he had early in his career.
It would be a little easier to stomach his lack of production if not for his lucrative cost. Matthews has a cap hit of over $15 million for 2017, making him the third highest paid linebacker in the entire league. He remains a great player, but he has not played like a top-five player for a while. It is foolish to think the Packers should trade or release Matthews (even with the cost), but his salary needs adjusting.
Cobb finds himself in a similar boat.
The wide receiver had a career year in 2014, racking up almost 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns on a prolific offense. But he’s regressed each year since. He couldn’t make up for the loss of Jordy Nelson in 2015, and fell to the team’s third best receiver in ’16.
However, Cobb currently holds the title of highest paid wide out on the Packers. He’ll make $12.6 million next year, more than a million more than Nelson. Adams has more potential than Cobb, but his salary remains low due to still being on his rookie deal. Even though Cobb dealt with injuries last year, the fact of the matter is he’s the third most talented Green Bay receiver.
He is undeniably a crucial part of the Packers’ offense. His versatility makes him valuable, and he plays with a fire that often goes unmatched. But Cobb just has not played like a $12 million receiver since 2014. Like Matthews, it would be foolish to part ways with Cobb. But restructuring both players’ contracts would definitely benefit the Packers.