Randall Cobb: What happens if he leaves in Free Agency?

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Randall Cobb stiff arms Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane during the first quarter in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Randall CobbRandall Cobb, you’re on our minds …

I was lying back on my coach this past Saturday, listening to my roommate (who is a Vikings fan, God bless his soul) spinning thoughts on what the Vikings should do with Adrian Peterson.

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All I was thinking at the time was, “Please, PLEASE, just don’t trade him to Dallas.”

He kept bringing up how devastated he would be if AP actually ended up playing for a different squad.

Then it hit me.

What happens if Cobb actually leaves?

This was the first time I actually gave this possibility any thought. Following reports that Cobb could receive mega offers of up to $12 million a year, losing Cobb is a concept with which every Packers fan must come to grips.

This is not to say that he is as good as gone, the $12 million are just reports, after all, and Cobb has made it clear that he would love to return to Green Bay.

Obviously, the best case for the Packers franchise is Cobb returning However, the Packers have a history of letting that second wideout leave and opting to not pay two guys big deals.

Randall Cobb. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports photograph

In 2001, the Packers let Antonio Freeman go to the Eagles, and we have seen it even more recently with the likes of Greg Jennings and James Jones.

Bringing Cobb back will be a top priority this offseason.

But at what cost?

Let us imagine the team prioritizes the likes of Bryan Bulaga at, say $7 million. Then lock up Kuhn and Raji or Guion (or both) for another cap hit of $4-5 million. That would leave about $20 million to fill a good 15 roster spots. It seems unlikely that the Packers would commit to over half of that on one player.

Losing Cobb would take a serious shot at the Packers’ ability to attack the middle of the field, which was already a “weakness.”

The best-case scenario is that Cobb returns, hopefully for or under $10 million a year. Unfortunately, if the open market heats up for Cobb there is a fair chance that he will be wearing different colors next season.

The Packers like to sit back on the first few days of free agency to avoid overspending; this is how the big signings of Charles Woodson and Julius Peppers occurred.

If Cobb gets wheeled in within the first couple of days, he might be as good as gone.

So what would the priorities of a Cobb-less Packers team look like?

Cobb was the lone bright spot in the offense’s ability to attack the middle of the defense in 2014. I cannot stress enough how important attacking the middle is when facing elite, man and cover-3 defenses that gave the Packers fits such as Detroit, Buffalo, and Seattle.

These teams don’t blitz often. They prefer to send their down lineman and drop the rest into coverage. However, when the opponent doesn’t have a threat in the middle of the field, the linebackers and a safety can start to creep up and focus on stopping the run or blitz.

Without a real threat from a tight end, Cobb’s presence in the slot was the only thing stopping linebackers or guys like Cam Chancellor from focusing on Lacy. This was evident in the first half of the NFC Championship game before McCarthy abandoned the passing game entirely until the final minute of regulation, but let’s not get into that …

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On the down side, Donald Driver isn’t going to come out of retirement to play in the slot if Cobb leaves. Fortunately, the Packers have a great track record of not missing a step after letting a big time wideout walk.

The next man up strategy has been the solution in the past and that would be the preferred route. The question with this is whether the Packers have enough faith in Davante Adams to step up in a big way.

He showed great capability creating yards after the catch like Cobb and as a great down-the-field threat. His work ethic and knowledge of the game seem to be there and all signs are pointing toward Adams becoming a stud.

However, defenses these days are built to have two corners capable of locking down a team’s top wideouts and heading into 2015 with just two true targets for Rodgers is far from ideal.

There is an off-chance that Jared Abbrederis could develop into a slot starter. This is an exciting proposal to Wisconsinites, though Abbrederis is coming off an ACL tear and might not have the same elusiveness he had when he entered the league.

Jared Abbrederis. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The other receiver on the roster is Jeff Janis who has yet to prove that he is anything more than a project on a team looking to win now.

As for the tight ends, Rodgers and Quarless are solid players, though I don’t see them developing into real threats up the middle.

So it seems evident that the Pack would need to add some sort of new weapon in the event that Cobb leaves Packers News. Free Agency seems to be on everyone’s minds right now. There are a lot of good free agent wideouts that will become available on March 10.

Big name wideouts such as Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Torrey Smith and in all likelihood Andre Johnson will be looking for new teams in seven days.

But if the Packers aren’t willing to pay Randall Cobb, why would they break the bank for an outsider?

I don’t see free agents among these ranks being in the realm of options for Green Bay.

Next: Free Agent options if Cobb leaves