GREEN BAY, Wis. – When the Green Bay Packers traded for Randall Cobb at the behest of Aaron Rodgers just before the start of training camp, they inherited the final two years of Cobb’s three-year, $27 million contract.
That’s a lot of money for a player who can’t get on the field.
Through the first two games, Cobb has played 27 offensive snaps. He’s been productive in that limited playing time with four receptions for 58 yards, including two big third-down conversions in the second half of last week’s victory over Detroit.
However, there are reasons why Cobb will have to be content with limited playing time.
First and foremost, the slot remains the domain of All-Pro Davante Adams. Putting Adams in the slot gives him more room to operate and makes him more difficult to double. That’s why, according to Pro Football Focus, Adams has lined up in the slot a team-high 26 times. He leads the team with six slot receptions this year after finishing eighth in the league with 48 receptions and second with seven touchdowns last year.
Second, the slot is the domain of Allen Lazard. When he’s in the slot, he’s not just a threat as a receiver but he can throw his weight around as a blocker. He’s played 23 snaps in the slot.
Third, the team used its third-round draft pick on Amari Rodgers. The Packers didn’t trade up to select Rodgers for him to sit on the bench all season. With Cobb making an impact, he played 12 snaps to Rodgers’ zero on Monday.
Fourth, putting star running back Aaron Jones in the slot on occasion allows coach Matt LaFleur to get Jones on the field together with AJ Dillon. On Monday, Jones played six snaps from the slot. Jones and Dillon were on the field together for Jones’ first touchdown, when Jones motioned to the left, caught a half-foot pass from Aaron Rodgers and scored.
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“It’s good having him back. He’s a stud. He’s a future Hall of Famer,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
That’s a lot of options, and that’s before the Packers line up with two or three tight ends.
“I call that ‘a great, positive problem.’ I mean, that is definitely a positive problem,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “Definitely we want him out there; we want all of them out there. I wish we could have so many more plays. That’s the key. I think last game we had one drive in the first quarter, two in the second. So, I think the more plays we can have the more we can get everybody involved.”
At age 31 and back in Green Bay for reasons bigger than statistical production, Cobb is taking his limited role in stride. Having compared leaving Houston with getting out of prison, Cobb said he arrived in Green Bay with “no expectations” other than to do his part in helping the team win. That’s easier said than done, as even Cobb admitted.
“Obviously, we all want to play and we all want to have 10 catches and 150 yards and three touchdowns every game, but that’s not going to happen,” Cobb said this week. “Understanding that we’re building something together, and we all have a piece and maybe one of us will have one of those games here and there, but we have to understand for us to win ballgames and for us to be in the position we want to be in January going into February, it’s going to take all of us. We have to understand that we all have a role and have to play our role and be the best that we can be in those times. And, when we get our chances, you do what you do when you get it.
It's been quite a couple months for Cobb, who went from getting ready for his second training camp with the Texans to a quick move to Green Bay, where he moved in with Rodgers for about 10 days to watch the Olympics and learn the playbook. He’s reunited with his family at their own place now, no doubt well aware that he might be a one-year rental for a team with championship aspirations for this season and an unsettled future.
“I just have so much gratitude every single day when I wake up,” he said. “I’m in an unbelievable position, not only to be able to play the game that I love and get paid to do it, but also to be somewhere where I’m happy – not complacent but content and happy to go to work every day and enjoy my time, spend it with people that I love to be around.”