As information about Aaron Rodgers’ and the Green Bay Packers’ resolution trickled out on Monday, one of the more fascinating angles involved a former Packers receiver. Randall Cobb spent the first eight years of his NFL career with the Packers, all of which he spent with Rodgers as his starting quarterback. Now it appears that a reunion is in the works after Cobb’s two years away from Lambeau Field, spurred on by a demand — or at least strong urging — from Rodgers.
Chris Brockman of the Rich Eisen show was the first to report that the Packers have a deal in place with the Houston Texans to acquire Cobb via trade. Trade compensation is not known as the deal is not yet finalized; according to Jason Wilde, the deal is currently dependent on the negotiation of a restructured contract between Cobb and the Packers.
The buzz about a potential trade started Monday afternoon, then took off on Tuesday with this tweet from Cobb’s Texans teammate Brandin Cooks:
You meet people and they become family right away! @rcobb18 go back home and set it off— Brandin Cooks (@brandincooks) July 27, 2021
Cobb signed a major free agent contract with Houston just one year ago. While the trade will cost the Texans $4 million in dead money from signing bonus deferral ($2 million in 2021 and $2 million in 2022), Cobb’s previous deal also carried a fully-guaranteed $8.25 million salary for this season plus $375,000 in per-game active roster bonuses. Houston is surely pleased to get that deal off their books. Meanwhile, for the Packers, who currently have only $4.7 million in salary cap room according to the NFLPA, restructuring the deal was a necessity.
The veteran’s return gives the Packers a slot receiver whose chemistry with Rodgers is well-established. There are some injury concerns to keep in mind — Cobb played in just nine games in 2018 and ten last season — but his 2019 campaign with the Dallas Cowboys was one of his better seasons. That year, he caught 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns, setting a career-high with a 15.1 yards per reception average. It was arguably his best season since 2014, when he totaled 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in a Packers uniform.
The move also throws the Packers’ plans at the wide receiver position into flux. There were likely to be several players fighting for a few roster spots behind the likes of Davante Adams, Amari Rodgers, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling; now Cobb’s arrival eliminates one of those available roster slots. Cobb and Amari Rodgers also have an established relationship, as Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, was Cobb’s college position coach at the University of Kentucky.
For Aaron Rodgers, the appeal is clear: he gets to play with a close friend. The two have been spotted together in the past at events like the Kentucky Derby. And if reports of Rodgers’ displeasure with the Packers’ front office are accurate — specifically as it relates to moving on from certain veteran players — this would be a significant step towards showing the quarterback that the personnel department will take his input into consideration moving forward.
Interestingly, Cobb played against the Packers during both of his two seasons away from Green Bay. As a Dallas Cowboy, he caught three passes for 53 yards in a 34-24 loss to the Packers in 2019, then had one of his finest games as a Texan in 2020 with eight grabs for 95 yards against the Packers, who won the game 35-20.