GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers are acquiring Randall Cobb from the Houston Texans, according to a producer for NFL Network’s Rich Eisen.
The deal is not official and terms have not been reported. A source wouldn’t confirm the report, though Texans receiver Brandin Cooks wished Cobb well.
The trade, if it happens, is noteworthy on a few levels, probably the least of which being Cobb’s return to Green Bay and what he can add to an offense that led the NFL in scoring in 2020.
The Packers convinced quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return for the 2021 NFL season after a months-long standoff rooted in Rodgers’ anger with management. On Monday, a couple hours after word broke of Rodgers’ return, Trey Wingo reported that Rodgers’ return was contingent on the Packers acquiring Cobb.
If true, the acquisition of Cobb would show that either, A, Rodgers is being given a say in personnel matters or, B, the trade is a way to show Rodgers that management has listened to his grievances and that it is working to improve.
As it stands, the only guarantee with Rodgers is that he’ll be with the Packers for the 2021 season. Perhaps the Cobb trade is a play to convince Rodgers to stay “beyond” 2021, the term team President Mark Murphy used at the shareholders meeting and repeatedly over the last few months.
From a football perspective, the trade makes little sense. Cobb will turn 31 on Aug. 22. A second-round pick in 2011, he has cap charges of $10.47 million in 2021 and $10.25 million in 2022, according to OverTheCap.com. That would be fine if Cobb had produced like an upper-echelon receiver. But that hasn’t been the case. Last year, his first season with the Texans, he caught 38 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games.
Cobb spent eight years with Green Bay, catching 470 passes for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns. He had a monster 2014 season with 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns but he’s never approached those numbers again. Over the last five seasons – 2016 through 2018 with Green Bay, 2019 with Dallas and 2020 with Houston – Cobb has averaged 51.4 receptions for 583 yards and 3.3 touchdowns.
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Against Green Bay in Week 7 of last season, he caught eight passes for 95 yards. Both were season-high totals. He missed the final six games of the season due to a toe injury.
“It’s a little weird,” Cobb said before that game. “Actually, I was in Dallas last year and we played the Packers. It was a very weird feeling after being in Green Bay for eight years, giving everything to that organization. To play them, it was weird being on the other sidelines.”
Beyond Cobb’s age, declining production and injury history – he played in nine games for Green Bay in 2018 and 10 games for Houston last year – the Packers used a third-round pick on Amari Rodgers to man the slot. While Cobb might be better today, Rodgers’ build – he’s 15 pounds heavier – might make him a better fit for coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.
To make the trade happen, the Packers are going to need to create some cap space. They opened the day less than $5 million below the cap. A restructure of Rodgers’ deal and/or a restructure of Cobb’s deal would take care of that.
Interestingly, Amari Rodgers and Cobb are close. When Cobb was at Kentucky, he was coached by Tee Martin. Martin is Rodgers’ father.
“Randall did everything for us – played outside, played inside, punt return, kick return, Wildcat, held for field goals and was very cerebral,” Martin said. “The obvious thing about those two is they’re built very similar. They’re both very strong, they can run, they’ve got sure hands, they’re very smart guys. That role that Randall played for so many years, I hope that he can have the career that Randall had. He was outstanding for the Packers for many years. I know Amari looked up to Randall growing up, being from the same area and having me coach him. Randall was one of the first people to reach out to him when he was drafted by the Packers. I know that meant a lot to him and it meant a lot for me to have one of my former players with the stature of Randall Cobb, having played for that organization, to reach out to my son, who just got drafted by the organization.”
Cobb joins a receiver corps that includes Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Devin Funchess and Amari Rodgers.
“I think putting on the green and gold and running through the tunnel and knowing the players that’s come through that tunnel and the people that’s played on that field, it really is hallowed ground,” Cobb said. “It’s really a special place. I have some very fond memories. A lot of interaction with the fans during the game and off the field and at the grocery store. So, it’ll always be a special place to me.”
The Packers would need to release a player to stay at the 90-man limit. That was done. With the return of Rodgers, the Packers released veteran quarterback Blake Bortles as well as Jake Dolegala. That leaves them with Rodgers, Jordan Love and Kurt Benkert at the position.