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Cobb, Rodgers and Tale of Two Packers Organizations

Randall Cobb was thrilled to return to an organization that Aaron Rodgers criticized a day earlier.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Here’s an interesting angle on the Green Bay Packers’ acquisition of receiver Randall Cobb and the roles of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and general manager Brian Gutekunst making it happen.

Or, perhaps, an interesting triangle.

Point 1: Rodgers says veteran players have been treated poorly upon their departure from the Green Bay Packers.

Point 2: Rodgers pushed the Packers to bring back Cobb, which Gutekunst made happen on Wednesday via a trade with the Houston Texans.

Point 3: Cobb might be the happiest man in Green Bay at the moment. Having returned to the team he played for from 2011 through 2019, Cobb burst into the media room with an enormous smile after his debut practice.

“You see a smile on my face. I had tears yesterday,” he said, sounding emotional at times. “I definitely had tears yesterday whenever I got in the car and headed to the airport. I think it really sunk in for me then and I just broke down. My wife was sitting there with me. She was crying, too, because I think she was more excited than I am to be back. We love this place. We love this city. It’s a special place. It will always be a special place.”

After a monster 2014 season, Cobb re-signed with a four-year, $40 million contract. Cobb never returned to that type of dominance, though. In 2018, the Packers drafted three receivers and Cobb missed seven games and caught only 38 passes. His contract having expired, Cobb settled for a one-year, $5 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys. After catching 55 passes for 828 yards and a career-high 15.1-yard average, he inked a three-year, $27 million deal with Houston. Year 1 was not a good one. Cobb caught 38 passes in 10 games, coach Bill O’Brien was fired less than a month into the season, and the Texas finished a woeful 4-12.

So, Cobb is leaving a rebuild for a championship contender – with the added bonus of reuniting with Rodgers, Davante Adams and others.

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“I can breathe again,” Cobb said. “I’ve seen the other side, and I’m excited to be back here. I’m excited, I’m smiling. It’s funny, my teammates said you act like you just got out of prison, and I said, ‘Well, you know …’ I’m very, very excited to be here.”

Cobb quickly interjected that the Texans are trending the right way under new general manager Nick Caserio but “Green Bay is like a Fortune 500 company, and the Texans are a new franchise. They’re a startup that’s figuring out their way.”

A Fortune 500 company, obviously, is not what Rodgers described during his 32 1/2-minute news conference a day earlier.

The trade was made because of Rodgers, either as a way to lure him back to Green Bay for the 2021 season or to show him that the organization has heard his message and, more importantly, is ready to incorporate real change. Whatever the exact reason, this much is clear: It was a deal made to make Rodgers happy.

“I think that’s a big part of it,” Gutekunst confirmed. “Obviously, without Aaron, I don’t think we would probably be pursuing that, but he’s still a really good player. Seeing him last night just kind of reminded me of what kind of impact he’ll have in our locker room for our football team. This is a very important thing for Aaron and that’s why we did it.”

Intriguingly, if the team really does hope the organizational changes can convince Rodgers to return for 2022 and beyond – if that’s even the Packers’ desire – then perhaps the addition of Cobb will be one of Gutekunst’s shrewdest moves.

That’s because Cobb was one of those cast-aside veterans. Then again, he also called Houston “prison.” Perhaps he can tell Rodgers that, while there may be flaws with the Green Bay Way, sometimes difficult “business” decisions, as Cobb put it, have to be made. Not every popular, high-character veteran can be kept. And sometimes, the grass simply isn’t greener.

“It felt like I never left,” Cobb said. “When I was pulling into the stadium, obviously, there’s been some changes with Titletown and the Resch Center, and I’m just like a little kid looking around at everything. I’m just so excited. But once I got into the building, we have some new pictures up and everything like that, but it felt like it was just another day. That was the realization for me, when I walked in and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually here’ and it feels good to be back.”