Should the Packers Re-Sign Randall Cobb?

Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb will be a free agent after the 2018 season.

Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb will be a free agent after the 2018 season.

After the Packers’ 24-17 loss to the Bears on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers made his case for the team to re-sign wide receiver Randall Cobb.

“When Randall’s 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 after the loss. “But he’s missed a lot of games this year and he got banged up today late. Having a slot guy like that who legitimately can get open time after time, when we need him.”

Cobb was originally drafted in 2011’s second round, and was re-signed after a breakout 2014 campaign. Jon and Gary discuss three burning questions about Cobb’s future in Green Bay.

Are the Packers better with Randall Cobb in 2019?

Jon: I don’t think they are, but that’s not necessarily Cobb’s fault. Cobb is not the player he once was. That should be clear. He hasn’t averaged more than 10.5 yards per catch since 2014, and every other one of his significant receiving stats has declined as well.

The extent of his value to the Packers has to do with his connection to Aaron Rodgers, which remains strong. By simple virtue of their longtime connection, Rodgers knows where Cobb will be at all times. That makes him a reliable target.

But is he the target Rodgers needs? I don’t know anymore.

“Is he the target Rodgers needs? I don’t know anymore.”

Jon Meerdink on Randall Cobb

Cobb’s brand of quick outs and slants are useful, but I think the physical gifts presented by Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are hard to ignore. They might not quite be on the same page as Rodgers, but I think the upside with either of the younger receivers is higher than with Cobb. That makes keeping Cobb on the field at their expense a hard sell, even if it makes Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable in the short term.

Gary: The Packers are better with the idea of Cobb at his most prolific. What he has done best in his career – catching passes across the middle, finding space in the secondary for a well-placed pass, and grabbing crucial third-down balls – is precisely what Green Bay needs at wide receiver.

However, Cobb’s availability in recent years has made it difficult to justify the salary he’ll rightfully command. Over the past three seasons, Cobb has been on the Packers’ injury report nearly one out of every three weeks. It seems unfair to judge a player as likeable as Cobb for something out of his control, but part of building an NFL roster includes removing the emotion from decisions.

What factors could change before free agency that affect where Randall Cobb signs in 2019?

Jon: I don’t think there’s an external factor that affects his standing with the Packers, but there will certainly be internal discussions between the team and Cobb’s camp about a deal. Those discussions could be short (think: “Hello Randall, thanks but no thanks. Good luck in 2019.”). but they will happen.

Gary: With two games remaining in the 2018 season, the Packers have a good idea what they have in rookies J’Mon Moore, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Based on playing time, Moore is unlikely to pan out while St. Brown and Valdes-Scantling are in line for more opportunities in 2019.

If either were to go down with an injury that has a year-long recovery – think torn ACL or Achilles tendon – it slightly elevates the possibility the Packers would be interested in retaining Cobb.

The Packers next head coach – if he ticks the boxes some have suggested – might be trying to shake things up on offense in Green Bay. One surefire way to do that? Make sure Rodgers doesn’t have his safety net in Cobb.

Do you want the Packers to re-sign Randall Cobb for 2019?

Jon: I don’t think I do unless the Packers get a massive discount. I think the way forward in Green Bay is not paved with nostalgia signings. While I think there is a potential role for Cobb on the 2019 roster, it’s a small one. I think for the Packers to grow, it might be in the Packers’ best interests to move on.

Gary: As of today, no. The Packers have squeezed the best parts out of Cobb as a wide receiver, and it’s likely his connection with Mike McCarthy will make him a primary target in free agency wherever McCarthy lands.

General manager Brian Gutekunst demonstrated a steadfast commitment to his decisions last offseason as safety Morgan Burnett remained unsigned weeks into free agency. If he decides against bringing Cobb back – what all indications point to as of now – then that’s that.