Daniels won’t let contract talk be ‘a distraction’

Packers sign first-round pick

Mike Daniels isn’t worried about his next contract – at least, not yet.

Maybe the uncertainty of entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract will get to him at some point. But as of Monday, as the Green Bay Packers tough-guy defensive end joined his teammates for the beginning of the club’s offseason program, Daniels insisted that his contract isn’t on his mind.

Daniels, a fourth-round pick from Iowa in 2012, started all 16 games last season and led the defensive line with a career-high 69 tackles (42 solo). He also led the line in sacks for the second straight year with 5.5 after registering 6.5 during his breakout 2013 season.

According to NFL Players Association salary records, Daniels’ 2015 salary increased from the scheduled $660,000 to $1.574 million as part of the rookie wage scale contained in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association. A player drafted in the third through seventh rounds can receive a raise by playing at least 35 percent of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons. Daniels played 62.4 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps in 2014 and 48.6 percent in 2013, so he qualified.

“That’s just a distraction,” Daniels replied Monday when asked about his contract situation. “I’m here to play football. I’m here to get better. I’m here to watch film, re-learn the defense, get bigger, faster, stronger.

“All that [contract] stuff, that’s nothing but a huge distraction. The instant people start putting a focus on something like that, that’s when their play starts to suffer. And I don’t have time for my play to suffer.”

That’s fair, but early on last season, wide receiver Randall Cobb confessed that thinking about his uncertain contract status – like Daniels, he was in the final year of his four-year rookie deal – impacted his play, as he   was admittedly “pressing” when he didn’t get off to a fast start.

On Monday, having signed his new four-year, $40 million deal last month before full-fledged free agency began, Cobb admitted it’s nice not to have to think about his contract.

“[It’s nice to] just to focus on football and not have to worry about answering questions or thinking about it too much, just going out there and doing what I do and practicing and preparing to get better,” Cobb said. “I knew this was where I wanted to be. I knew there was never a time where I didn’t want to be here. … I feel like we’re right there, and we’re ready to start the journey today to build on this season and bring a Super Bowl back this upcoming year.”