The Packers enticed receiver Randall Cobb to re-sign this week by structuring his contract in a way that all but guarantees $21 million and gives him an excellent chance to make all $40 million the deal calls for on paper.
As part of the four-year deal he signed this week, Cobb will make $21 million in the first two seasons, according to a source with access to NFL salary information. That means his first two years average $10.5 million, or $500,000 more than the overall average of $10 million.
Cobb reportedly turned down longer-term offers that averaged a little more than the Packers' deal, but the $21 million in the first two years plus the chance to continue putting up big numbers playing with a premier quarterback and with another shot at free agency at age 28 were the Packers' selling points to get Cobb to re-sign.
Quarterback play was a prominent issue because Cobb's offers from another team or teams almost surely were more back loaded than the Packers' deal. Since that back-loaded money wasn't guaranteed there was a chance shortcomings at quarterback could have hindered Cobb's production and led to him getting cut before he reached the big pay days in the final years of the deal.
Playing with the Packers and Rodgers, on the other hand, Cobb stands an excellent chance of finishing out the contract and becoming a free agent while still young enough to get another lucrative deal.
Cobb's contract with the Packers includes $15.1 million in pay this season: a $13 million signing bonus, a $1.2 million base salary, up to $500,000 in weekly game-day roster bonuses ($31,250 per game) and a $400,000 workout bonus.
His salary cap number for this year, though, is only $5.35 million.
In 2016 Cobb will receive a $3.5 million roster bonus on the third day of the league year, plus a $1.5 million base salary, the game-day roster bonuses of up to $500,000, and a $400,000 workout bonus. His cap number is $9.15 million.
In 2017 and '18 he'll receive the same bonuses – up to $500,000 in game-day roster bonuses, and $400,000 workout bonuses. He'll also receive a base salary of $8.6 million each of those seasons. His cap number for both seasons is $12.75 million.
If Cobb finishes the deal, he'll be 28 when he becomes a free agent in 2019.