The first-year general manager sounded open to keeping all three on the roster, but it might not be under their current contracts — which combined would take up more than $36 million in salary-cap space and cost more than $31 million in actual cash.
“If you have really good players, you need to keep really good players,” Gutekunst said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “And you don’t let them walk out the door just for that reason.”
Gutekunst said Nelson still qualified as such despite a sharp decline in production after quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ broken collarbone last season and his status as the oldest player (he will turn 33 in May) among that trio. Matthews will turn 32 in May, while Cobb will be 28 in August.
“He’s been a great player here,” Gutekunst said of Nelson. “He’s still a very strong contributor for us. You saw early in the year the impact he had in those games, yeah, he’s still a really good player in my eyes.”
Nelson has the second-highest salary-cap number ($12,518,750) and the second-highest salary ($10.25 million) among the three. Cobb ranks higher in cap number ($12,718,750) but lower in salary ($9.5 million), while Matthews ranks higher in salary ($11.4 million) but lower in cap number ($11,337,500).
The Packers expect to come in at around $16 million under the projected salary cap for 2018 as things currently stand. But with Rodgers’ contract extension expected to be completed this offseason and Gutekunst likely to pursue free agents more aggressively than predecessor Ted Thompson, the Packers could need some of the salary-cap space that cutting or restructuring those players would provide.
“It’s hard enough in this league to find them, so we certainly wouldn’t want to let them walk out the door,” Gutekunst said. “But there are restraints and there’s things that every decision kind of affects something else, so we kind of want to let all the information come in before we get to that point.”
The greatest debate could center on Nelson, who had six touchdowns in the first five games of the season but none after that. His receptions dropped to 53 from 97 and his yards to 482 from 1,257 in 2016, when he also caught 14 touchdowns and was the NFL’s comeback player of the year following his return from ACL reconstruction.
No one has better chemistry with Rodgers, although they weren’t able to rekindle it when Rodgers made a one-game return following his collarbone surgery. Nelson, however, has been in Green Bay most of the offseason and coach Mike McCarthy said he has even sat in on some meetings with the new offensive coaching staff as they have re-written the playbook.
When the Packers signed Davante Adams to a four-year, $58 million extension in December, it put them in the position to have three receivers near or over the $10 million mark in salary-cap charges for 2018 and created the possibility that either Nelson or Cobb — or perhaps even both — could be gone.
“Jordy and Randall can still play,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “But we need to improve. That’s a common conversation Brian and I have — how are we going to get better? Get better internally or externally.”
Tennessee Titans shipping Isaiah Wilson to Miami Dolphins
The Titans will send a seventh-round pick in 2022 and Wilson to Miami for a 2021 seventh-rounder to complete the deal, sources said.
Wilson will need to pass his physical in Miami once the new league year begins next week for the trade to be officially completed. If he doesn’t, he would revert back to the Titans.
Tennessee signed Wilson, the 29th overall selection in last April’s draft, to a four-year, $11.6 million contract in August. His time in Tennessee didn’t get off to a good start, prompting the team to move on from him less than a year later.
The right tackle out of the University of Georgia played only four snaps in his rookie season, which culminated in him being placed on the non-football injury list in December. Before that, Wilson found himself on the reserve/COVID-19 list twice last year, during training camp and in October.
He also had a couple of run-ins with the law.
The first incident came when Tennessee State police broke up an off-campus party that Wilson had attended during training camp. In their report, the police documented that Wilson went to the second-floor balcony, where he appeared to briefly consider jumping. He received a trespass warning.
The second incident occurred when Wilson was arrested and charged with a DUI in September when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a concrete wall.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson addressed Wilson’s status during a virtual news conference last month, telling reporters he had not spoken to him since putting him on the NFI list and suggesting that Wilson “makes a determination on whether he wants to do what it takes to play pro football.”
The Dolphins, meanwhile, are buying low on Wilson. They liked him leading up to the 2020 NFL draft and he could have been a candidate for a Day 2 pick by the team, a source told ESPN. Now the Dolphins are taking virtually a free chance to help him revive his NFL career.
Wilson played at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, where Dolphins coach Brian Flores attended high school. Wilson also attended Georgia with Dolphins guard Solomon Kindley.
Miami now hopes those connections will help get more out of Wilson than Tennessee did.
NFL Network first reported the trade agreement Monday.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini and Cameron Wolfe contributed to this report.
Washington Football Team places franchise tag on Brandon Scherff
Scherff will receive $18.03 million in the 2021 season — a 20% increase over last season. But Washington still hopes to sign him to a long-term deal. It has until July 15 to do so, and a source described talks so far as amicable.
Scherff, who turned 29 in December, played on the franchise tag last season, earning $15.03 million. He also became the first Washington player to be named first team All-Pro since punter Matt Turk in 1996. Scherff has made four Pro Bowls, including the past two.
Coaches liked how Scherff played inside, but also how well he blocked on the move in the screen game.
But injuries also have been an issue. Scherff hasn’t played all 16 games since 2016 and has missed a combined 18 games the past four years. He ended up on injured reserve in 2017 and ’18.
Washington selected Scherff with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft, intending to try him at right tackle first. But Washington moved him to right guard early in his first camp and started Morgan Moses at tackle, creating a strong tandem on the right side.
While at Iowa, Scherff was named the Outland Trophy winner in 2014 as the nation’s best offensive lineman.
Traffic case closed, as Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh Jacobs completes community service, lawyers say
LAS VEGAS — A traffic case involving Las Vegas Raiders player Josh Jacobs was closed Monday after he completed community service and paid a fine stemming from a vehicle crash in January near McCarran International Airport, his lawyers said.
The 23-year-old running back mentored at a Boys & Girls Club and paid a $500 fine to resolve a failure to exercise due care traffic violation, said his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld.
Jacobs received several stitches for a cut forehead and was initially also charged with driving under the influence after the 2019 Acura NSX he was driving crashed early Jan. 4 into a tunnel wall at the Las Vegas airport.
The DUI charge was dropped a week later because Jacobs’ blood-alcohol level did not reach the 0.08% level needed to pursue the case, his attorneys and a prosecutor said.
Jacobs, who lives in Las Vegas, was alone in the vehicle after returning to Las Vegas from Denver, where the Raiders defeated the Broncos in their final NFL regular-season game less than 12 hours before the crash.
A team representative did not immediately respond Monday to an email message about the case.
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