Packers: Making a case to re-sign Randall Cobb this offseason

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball in the first half against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 23, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball in the first half against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 23, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Randall Cobb is set to hit free agency this offseason, but the Green Bay Packers should seriously consider bringing him back.

It’s fair to say Cobb’s performances haven’t matched his contract over the past four seasons, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an important player for the Packers offense in the future. Far from it.

Aaron Rodgers went to bat for his longtime teammate in his postgame press conference following Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears:

“When Randall is healthy I think our offense has been different because we have a true slot guy who can make plays in the slot consistently,” Rodgers said. “Having a slot guy like that who legitimately can get open time after time is what we need.”

It sure seemed like Rodgers was sending a message that he wants Cobb to return in 2019.

Rodgers is right. While there’s a lot to like about the new-look wide receiver corps moving forward, Cobb still has something to offer to this team.

Davante Adams is one of the best receivers in the game, and rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have the size and speed to become big playmakers for this team in the future.

But Cobb gives the Packers a reliable option in the slot and can still play an important role for this team.

Rodgers trusts Cobb, and while they weren’t on the same page often enough in Sunday’s loss to Chicago, the Rodgers-to-Cobb connection has led to some big plays over the years.

From Cobb’s NFC North-winning touchdown in 2013, to his three-touchdown playoff performance in 2016 and his 75-yard game-winning touchdown against Chicago in the season opener this year, Cobb has made a number of important plays at key moments throughout his career.

One of the biggest problems for Cobb has been staying healthy. He has only completed a full 16-game season twice in eight years and hasn’t done so since 2015.

The Packers could look to find another option in the slot this offseason, either through free agency or the draft, but Cobb already has years of experience working with Rodgers.

And given his injury history and lack of consistency since 2014, his contract should be affordable.

The contract

After a breakout 1,287-yard, 12-touchdown season in 2014, Cobb signed a new four-year deal worth $40 million.

In the four seasons since, Cobb has a combined 2,448 yards and 16 touchdowns, averaging 612 yards and four touchdowns per season.

If Cobb was still under his contract through the 2019 season, a case could certainly be made that the Packers should move on and free up cap room. But the fact he’s a free agent changes things.

Cobb’s new contract would be significantly cheaper than the one he signed in 2014. The Packers could offer Cobb a one or two-year deal that wouldn’t have a big impact on the salary cap.

Last year Julian Edelman signed a new two-year contract with the New England Patriots worth $11 million. In 2018 his cap hit was $3.7 million, according to Spotrac. If the Patriots decided to cut Edelman this offseason with one year remaining on his deal, it would only result in a $1.6 million cap hit.

Edelman was 31 when he signed the deal. Cobb will still be 28 this offseason. So that could play a factor. But Edelman was also coming off a 1,000-yard season in 2016.

If the Packers bring back Cobb it won’t be as an ascending star who can regularly hit the 1,000-yard mark. It will be as an experienced, reliable player in the slot who Aaron Rodgers trusts.

Just like how Edelman has Tom Brady‘s trust, Cobb can have a similar role in Green Bay’s offense moving forward.

And now just imagine Josh McDaniels takes over as head coach and brings a similar scheme to Green Bay.

The Packers shouldn’t offer top wide receiver money to Cobb, or any other free agent pass catcher for that matter, but if they can agree a short-term deal they should.

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If Brian Gutekunst and Cobb can agree to a short-term deal, his value to the team makes him important to re-sign this offseason.