Former Packers receiver (and Aaron Rodgers favorite) Randall Cobb is returning to Green Bay

Ryan Wood
Packers News
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GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers are serious about trying to convince Aaron Rodgers to stay with them beyond 2021.

The clearest sign of that sincerity came Wednesday when general manager Brian Gutekunst did an extraordinary reversal and completed a trade for veteran receiver Randall Cobb, in an apparent attempt to appease Rodgers.

Cobb all but confirmed the move while Gutekunst was addressing the media Wednesday with a tweet saying, "I'm coming home!"

The Packers confirmed the trade Wednesday night.

Gutekunst declined to say whether Rodgers had requested the trade.

The Packers will send a 2022 sixth-round pick to Houston. The Texans will contribute $3 million toward his $8.25 million guaranteed salary. Cobb's cap number will be just under $3 million.

It was Gutekunst who chose not to re-sign Cobb as a free agent following the 2018 season. Cobb was 28 years old then, and the decision to let him walk was hardly a surprise after he caught 38 passes for 383 yards and two touchdowns with injuries limiting him to just nine games.

Cobb did not return to his Pro Bowl form of 2014 in his past two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and the Texans. After a solid debut in 2019, catching 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games, Cobb’s numbers dropped to 39 catches for 441 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games last season.

Cobb turns 31 on Aug. 22, and his 10-year career is littered with lower-body injuries, including a toe injury last season. But he is one of Rodgers’ closest friends in the league. The Packers’ second-round pick in 2011, Cobb annually attends the Kentucky Derby with the quarterback each May.

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So Cobb’s return via trade indicates a major change in mindset within the Packers front office. Earlier this offseason, Gutekunst said he was not only willing to seek Rodgers’ input on personnel issues, but always had. Regardless, it would be difficult to pinpoint any examples during Gutekunst’s first three years as GM he enabled Rodgers to dictate his decisions.

Until now.

Packers receiver Davante Adams said Cobb’s return is “a real positive for the whole organization,” and joked the only thing missing was Jordy Nelson returning with him. 

“I mean, he can add a lot to this room,” Adams said of Cobb. “He’s got a lot left in the tank. He’s back healthy from last year, and if nothing else, the veteran leadership in that room. We’ve got a lot of young guys. I’ve kind of been on my own in a sense as, not a chaperone — I feel like that’s a poor choice of words — but there’s obviously a pretty good distance in experience in that room. So just having him back in there to kind of help with some of the other guys, help advance them and teach them and show them the way. 

“He’s a great leader, a leader by example, and his last year here he was able to make a pretty good impact on this team. Having him back, I hope he’s next back to me in my locker. He’s one of my best friends.” 

Cobb’s return conflicts with the Packers drafting Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers in the third round. Amari Rodgers has drawn comparisons to Cobb, including from Cobb himself. Tee Martin, Amari Rodgers’ father, was Cobb’s receivers coach at Kentucky, where he formed a close bond with the young receiver.

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“I see a little bit,” Cobb said, “but I also see him being a lot better. And I’ve said that at every stage he’s been at. When he was in high school, he was way better than I was. In his college career, what he’s been able to accomplish. His athletic ability, I mean, he jumps higher than me, I think he ran faster than me, he’s stronger than I was at that point. He has every single attribute that you want when you look for a football player, and not just a receiver but a football player who can do many different things and provide many different opportunities on the field.”

Amari Rodgers was expected to be the future of the Packers’ slot receiver position, a versatile weapon coach Matt LaFleur could use in his jet-motion schemes. Cobb’s arrival might overlap some of those plans.

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