Randall Cobb would be wise to take a pay cut and play the last remaining year on his contract with Aaron Rodgers. This would do his market value justice as he heads into next offseason as a free agent. However, as we all know you can’t mess with the pockets of a professional athlete as it clouds their judgment preventing them from seeing the bigger picture. If Cobb is unwilling to renegotiate his contract, the Packers can either cut him or trade him. He will generate plenty of interest as one of the bigger names among slot receivers in free agency. Because Cobb will have a number of suitors, Brian Gutekunst and the Packers front office should consider shopping Cobb around before cutting the chord permanently. A number of teams will consider absorbing the $9.5 million dollars left on his contract if they can reap some reward from the former pro-bowler with plenty left in the tank.
Cobb is 27 years-old right now and won’t turn 28 until a month prior to the 2018 season. Cobb has plenty of prime years left, but he hasn’t lived up to the four-year $40 million dollar contract he signed in 2015.
Cobb earned this contract when he went for 1,287 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns in 2014. His lone pro-bowl season. Since then, Cobb’s numbers have dropped considerably. When Jordy Nelson was lost in 2015, Cobb played 91% of the snaps on offense. This increased role actually led to less production as he had 458 less receiving yards and six fewer touchdowns.
And, with the emergence of Davante Adams as an elite outside receiver, Cobb has drawn less attention from defenses. Typically, this would help the numbers of a slot receiver, but in Cobb’s case, he has seen his numbers dwindle. Two straight seasons of 600 receiving yards to be exact.
Cobb is a rare talent with history as a college quarterback and great awareness as a runner. The Packers tried implementing a “Cobbcat” scheme, but the results were poor. Cobb rushed nine times in 2017 for a total of 17 yards.
Plenty of GMs around the league will pick up the phone if the Packers starting offering up Cobb’s services. He’s a crafty slot receiver with sure hands and good speed after the catch. In return, the Packers could add a weapon on defense or offense and maybe an early draft pick. Perhaps both if the Packers are willing to throw in a late round pick as well.
The Cleveland Browns have the most cap space available in the NFL per Spotrac. Even if the Browns are able to win a bidding war for Kirk Cousins, it will leave plenty of cap room to surround him with a weapon like Cobb. The Browns have three second-round picks and may be willing to give one up should the Packers inquire. Cobb accompanied with a fourth or fifth-round pick should be enough to make that happen.
Jimmy Garoppolo may have just signed a historic deal, but the 49ers have the money left over to bring in a receiver to maximize his potential. They are thin at that position with Marquise Goodwin as their second best option. When he returns from injury, Pierre Garcon should reclaim his spot as the team’s number one receiver. Cobb would be a great addition to a west coast offense looking to make plays in the middle of the field.
The 49ers have a late second round pick and a pair of early third round picks that should intrigue the Packers. Gutekunst may even be able to finesse outside linebacker Eli Harold off their payroll as well. Harold is entering his fourth season and has yet to miss a game. He is great at setting the edge and even makes an impact stopping the run. His statistics won’t stick out but he has always done what is asked of him.
Harold’s defensive coordinator Robert Saleh had this to say about him halfway through the 2017 season, “Stat-sheet wise, I’m not a big stat guy in the fact that if you just watch the tape you’ll see Eli has improved immensely over the course of the year…(continued) He might not show up on the stat sheet, but what Eli’s been able to do run-game wise, he’s one of the better edge setters I’ve ever been around.”
And finally, the Titans could be another team looking to add a proven receiver to the mix. It doesn’t appear they will bring back Eric Decker who signed a one-year deal last off-season. For the right collateral (Cobb and a mid-round pick), the Packers could land TE Delanie Walker who has been one of the more consistent pass-catching tight ends in the league. Age hasn’t caught up with him yet as he’s accumulated over 800 receiving yards in four straight seasons. The Titans started a succession plan when they selected Jonnu Smith during the third round of the 2017 draft. He rarely saw the field, but he was productive when given opportunities (18 catches, 30 targets, and 2 touchdowns). If they feel Smith is ready to be a starter, it would make sense for them to move on from Walker who will be 34 in August.
The bottom line is that if Cobb refuses a pay cut the Packers would be naïve to let him walk without trying to get something in return. Whether it be draft picks, an up and coming defensive player, or a top-5 tight end, teams will be willing to give something up for a receiver with Cobb’s skill set.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.