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Ted Thompson signed defensive end Mike Daniels to a contract extension now because the price was only going to go up.

In the last couple years, the Green Bay Packers general manager had stopped signing core players to extensions during the final season of their contracts and instead waited until the days or even hours before the start of free agency to re-sign them.

He did that with Sam Shields, Bryan Bulaga and Randall Cobb in just the last two offseasons. That allowed Thompson to see them go through the final year of their contracts healthy and playing well enough to ensure they were worth re-signing.

But it also cost a little extra money, at least in the cases of Shields and Cobb, because with the threat of injury removed and the open market impending, they had maximum leverage.

Daniels gets 4-year, $42 million extension

It was all but a given that Thompson was going to re-sign Daniels at some point. The Packers GM disdains signing free agents but he doesn't let his best young players — Daniels is 26 — get away. He was hoping to get Daniels to bite during the season on an undervalued extension because of the injury risk of finishing the season. Daniels didn’t and played extremely well, so his price was only going up.

That Thompson was willing to pay Daniels $42 million for four more years speaks volumes. That’s an average of $10.5 million for each of the new seasons. We can assume that Thompson and his contract negotiator, team vice president Russ Ball, projected that Daniels would get a deal worth even more than $10.5 million a year if he’d reached free agency.

So now the Packers take the injury risk for the final three regular-season games plus the playoffs. But you can’t fault them for that. Daniels is one of their best defensive players – he might even be second best, behind only Clay Matthews – and brings a nasty streak and high motor to that side of the ball.

If you’re not going to pay a player like that, whom are you going to pay?

pdougher@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty

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