Talk about consolation prizes.
Late Monday night, as the NFL’s first day of the legal tampering period (read: free agency) came to a close, the Houston Texans signed now-former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Randall Cobb, according to media reports.
The contract hasn’t officially been announced by either club, though NFL Network analyst James Jones — who broke the news — claims it’s worth $27 million over three years, with $18.75 million guaranteed.
It’s an excellent payday for Cobb, who inked a one-year, $5 million prove-it deal with Dallas last March. He certainly proved there’s gas left in his proverbial tank, finishing third on the team with 828 yards and three touchdowns on 55 receptions (15.1 yards per catch). He seamlessly succeeded Cole Beasley as quarterback Dak Prescott’s slot safety blanket, and the two formed evident on-field chemistry.
In Houston, Cobb will step in as an immediate starter opposite Will Fuller and Kenny Stills. He should be considered the out-of-house replacement for All-World WR DeAndre Hopkins, whom the Texans shipped to the Cardinals in a mind-boggling, widely-panned trade for running back David Johnson.
Nonetheless, Cobb gets an (arguable) upgrade at quarterback going from Prescott, whom the Cowboys franchise-tagged Monday, to Deshaun Watson, fresh off his second straight Pro Bowl.
As for Big D, it’s a disheartening blow. New head coach Mike McCarthy, who coached Cobb in Green Bay, hoped to ensure a reunion by locking down the 30-year-old prior to the league’s signing period.
“I was very impressed with Randall last year,” McCarthy said at last month’s Scouting Combine. “He was banged up a couple of years prior to that, but I thought he had a heck of a season last year in Dallas. I was very impressed with his video.”
McCarthy, however, had one wish fulfilled following the Cowboys’ extraordinary commitment to top-priority free agent Amari Cooper: a five-year, $100 million pact ($60 million guaranteed), which makes him the NFL’s second-highest-paid wideout.
“Having a chance to get through all the tape, [Cooper] did a lot of great things and it really looks like he’s in sync with Dak,” McCarthy said.
Cooper will continue forming a lethal duo alongside 2019 breakout star Michael Gallup, but the Cowboys could be in the market for additional help after losing Cobb and with Tavon Austin testing free agency. The other WRs under contract are a whos-who of replacement-level pass-catchers: Ventell Bryant, Devin Smith, Tevin Jones, Noah Brown, Cedrick Wilson, Lance Lenoir, Deante Burton, and Jon’Vea Johnson.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the 2020 draft class is historically deep at receiver, and they may use their No. 17 overall pick to fortify the position. Potential targets include Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, and LSU’s Justin Jefferson — all consensus first-round prospects.
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Cowboys Do Multi-Year Contract with Jarwin
On a day they failed to secure Prescott on a long-term deal, Dallas surprisingly sprung for another offensive starter. The team on Monday announced a three-year, $24.2 million contract extension for tight end Blake Jarwin, who takes home $9.2 million guaranteed, cemented as Jason Witten’s permanent replacement.
Jarwin, 26, entered the offseason as a restricted free agent whom Dallas tendered at the second-round level. He was due to collect roughly $3.3 million for 2020. But an extenson had been in the works since last month’s Scouting Combine, where his agent, Kelli Masters, made headway with Cowboys brass.
Jarwin’s retention means the Cowboys have two primary TEs signed for next season, the other being 2018 fourth-rounder Dalton Schultz. Witten, an unrestricted free agent, will move on to greener pastures, perhaps reuniting with Jason Garrett in New York.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL