Packers face tough decisions with leftover cap money

Weston Hodkiewicz
Press-Gazette Media;

The Green Bay Packers are $13,515,388 under the 2014 salary cap and should have ample room to either work possible extensions with Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb, or re-sign tight end Jermichael Finley.

They just need to decide what they want to do with it.

On Thursday, the Packers signed their final two draft picks, second-round receiver Davante Adams and third-round tight end Richard Rodgers, and still have wiggle room partially due to the $9.8 million carryover from last year's cap.

The reserve -- and that they didn't sign an unrestricted free agent for the second consecutive year -- should position Green Bay to re-sign either Nelson or Cobb, who are both unrestricted free agents after next season.

Nelson, 29, recently told reporters he wants to stay in Green Bay and is optimistic a resolution to his contract situation could be reached by training camp.

The Packers received a bargain with Nelson the first time around when the two sides agreed on a three-year, $12.6 million extension in October 2011.

They likely won't get the same discount with Nelson on the second negotiation. Over the past three seasons, Nelson has developed into quarterback Aaron Rodgers' primary target with 202 catches for 3,322 yards and 30 touchdowns.

DeSean Jackson (three years, $24 million), Eric Decker (five years, $36 million), Golden Tate (five years, $31 million) and Riley Cooper (five years, $25 million) set a pretty steep market for Nelson, though all four are younger.

Nelson could still be a prime candidate for a similar deal as the one Vincent Jackson received in March 2012 from Tampa Bay (five years, $55 million), which came two months after his 29th birthday.

Cobb doesn't have Nelson's proven production, but his market should be interesting given his age. He'll turn 24 in August. He missed 10 games with a broken tibia last season, but has averaged 5.2 catches, 66 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game over his past two seasons.

His 5-foot-10, 192-pound stature has also lent itself to Cobb being used as an occasional running back. He has a 13.2-yard per carry average in 16 career attempts not to much his abilities on special teams.

One other factor the Packers will need to consider is the future of tight end Jermichael Finley, who has been cleared from his C-3 and C-4 neck fusion by his surgeon and Pittsburgh team doctor Joseph Maroon.

Finley, 27, said earlier this offseason he still wants to get paid like the emerging tight end he was before sustaining a bruised spinal cord in an Oct. 20 game against Cleveland, but may have to accept a prove-it deal if he still wishes to play.

Finley dropped by Lambeau Field to talk with team doctor Patrick McKenzie, but there has been no indication the Packers have examined his neck. Coach Mike McCarthy has stated countless times this offseason that he hopes to have Finley back.

The Packers have some serious decisions to make over the next month and about $13.5 million in flexibility to decide which direction the Packers' passing game will take.