NFC Championship loss influenced Cobb's return
Randall Cobb had business to consider. There were multiple contract offers, life-changing money, and no time to let emotions cloud his judgment.
Yet, in the week before free agency, the Green Bay Packers wide receiver couldn't forget the disappointment. There were tears in his eyes as he stood inside CenturyLink Field's visiting locker room in January. So amid the dollars and contract years, the deal that would set him and his family up for life, Cobb had one more thing to consider.
He thought about the NFC championship game.
"A lot," Cobb said Tuesday morning. "Obviously, that loss still hurts. It still feels fresh. I want to win a championship, and we were right there. We were close. We didn't do what we needed to do to win, but we have a lot of the guys coming back this year, same guys. A lot of our core guys, and we believe that puts us in the mix.
"So we have to handle business this offseason as far as continuing to get better on a daily basis. Obviously, next season, we have to put ourselves in position to go on a run."
Green Bay's collapse in Seattle wasn't the only reason Cobb re-signed with the Packers. For one, the money was nice. Cobb's four-year, $40 million deal includes $15.1 million this year, and a $13 million signing bonus, according to a source with access to NFL salary information.
Cobb said five teams offered contracts when legal tampering began 11 a.m. Saturday. Another team offered later in the day, after Cobb said he decided to return to Green Bay no matter what it took. Yes, Cobb said, he could've signed elsewhere for more money.
"You thought about those, the income that you could make," Cobb said of the other offers. "But at the end of the day, my heart was in Green Bay, and I knew that's where I wanted to be. I knew I had a good thing going for me, and still I signed a pretty lucrative deal that I can handle as far as making that last for the rest of my life."
The "pretty lucrative" deal Green Bay offered made him the NFL's richest slot receiver, rewarding his career-high 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Those numbers, and that position, were another reason Cobb ultimately decided to stay.
In Green Bay, Cobb found himself the perfect niche. Over four seasons, he grew from a late second-round pick to a Pro Bowl receiver. With MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing him passes, and All-Pro receiver Jordy Nelson occupying double coverage on the perimeter, Cobb had room to roam the middle of the field.
Opposing secondaries can't forget about Cobb. They can't focus all their attention on him, either.
"I think that with my skill set," Cobb said, "I'm able to do a bunch of different things. I think coach (Mike) McCarthy and our offensive staff has been very creative in finding ways to get the ball out in my hands and allowing me to make plays. Having a staff that understands the kind of player I am, and being able to use my versatility in such a diverse offense, I think it definitely helps.
"I think they maximize my ability by using me in so many different ways. I think that was huge for me to know that I know what I'm going to get with the positions they're going to put me in."
Cobb said he spoke with teammates during the negotiation process, but not much. This was his decision, his life. Rodgers and Nelson never tried to sell him on the importance of returning to Green Bay, Cobb said.
Cobb already knew the value of playing alongside the NFL's best quarterback and one of the league's top receivers. Cobb's deal averages $10 million per year, slightly more than Nelson's $9.76 million annual average. The compensation is similar. So is their importance to the Packers' offense, Cobb said.
"I don't think me or Jordy — either one of us — really care who you consider No. 1," Cobb said. "We know we're going to go play. We know we're going to do the best we can. We're going to help put this team in the best position we can, regardless of who's catching balls, who's scoring touchdowns. We're all about winning."
Which brings Cobb back to that CenturyLink Field visitor's locker room, back to the core reason he chose to return to Green Bay — to win rings.
Now, Rodgers, Nelson and Cobb are under contract with Green Bay through the next four seasons. Cobb said it would be a little sweeter winning a Super Bowl with Rodgers, Nelson and the rest of Green Bay's core, having already come so close.
"I knew what I had in both of them," Cobb said of Rodgers and Nelson. "I knew what I had in this team. At the end of the day, I think they would've been happy with me in either situation, any decision that I made, but I know how much I value them and how much they mean to me. To be able to win a championship with them, I think it would mean that much more to me."
-- Pete Dougherty contributed to this report