Aaron Rodgers reunited the Green Bay Packers for the first time in more than six months on Tuesday and, if he gets his wish, may soon have one of his favorite former teammates rejoining him for the 2021 season.
On the same day that news broke about Rodgers’ willingness to return to the Packers for the upcoming year, several NFL insiders disclosed that the reigning NFL MVP quarterback “absolutely” wants the Packers to find a way to bring back veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb, who is currently under contract with the Houston Texans.
The original report came from former NFL Live host Trey Wingo, who said Rodgers’ return to Green Bay was “hinging” on the Packers cutting a deal for Cobb — something that was proven untrue on Tuesday when Rodgers reported on time for training camp. Evidently, though, the possibility of Cobb coming back is still on the table.
Jonathan Jones, a senior NFL reporter for CBS Sports, later confirmed that Rodgers does indeed want Cobb back in Green Bay this season and added that his desire to see such a deal happen motivated the Texans to trade for former Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller on July 24.
“As Rodgers’ compromise with GB settles, this trade should happen,” Jones tweeted.
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Could Packers Take on Cobb’s Contract?
The biggest issue with a potential trade for Cobb right now is his hefty contract. The 30-year-old wideout has two more years left on his deal with the Texans and is set to carry a salary-cap hit of $10.47 million during the 2021 season. That number slightly drops to $10.25 million in 2022, but whichever team controls his contract can cut him loose next offseason and save $8.25 million if he doesn’t live up to expectations this year.
The Packers have no reasonable way of fitting Cobb’s contract on their books as things stand now, but Rodgers’ new agreement with the Packers — which is not yet official — is expected to free up a significant amount of immediate cap space for the team. According to independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls, the Packers could free up $11.76 million in cap space for 2021 if they do a full restructure of Rodgers’ $14.7 million base salary and push out his earnings over three void years from 2023-25.
While Rodgers has not yet officially agreed to any adjustments regarding his contract, it is possible he will take a similar approach to what Tom Brady did when he arrived in Tampa Bay last year, helping recruit former New England teammates such as Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown. It also might be another way for the Packers to appease Rodgers, who has remained close friends with Cobb and has been missing a reliable slot receiver since his departure in 2019.
Crazier things have happened.
What About Rookie WR Amari Rodgers?
There’s not much doubt that Rodgers wants to play with Cobb again. Former teammate AJ Hawk agreed that Rodgers would “absolutely” be in favor of a reunion with one of his favorite pass-catchers after they developed a strong connection over their eight years together in Green Bay. Cobb has also shown there is still some left in the tank, catching 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns for the Cowboys in 2019.
The Packers, however, might have already found themselves Randall Cobb 2.0. It was only about three months ago that general manager Brian Gutekunst traded away a third- and fourth-round pick to move up for Clemson standout Amari Rodgers, a rookie talent who has already made an impression in the offseason and could offer the team a legitimate new weapon in the slot and in the return game.
Now, Cobb and Rodgers know each other pretty well. Cobb played under Tee Martin, Rodgers’ father, during his collegiate career at Kentucky and has acted as a mentor for the young Rodgers since before he arrived at Clemson. Cobb also called Rodgers after the Packers selected him to congratulate him, so there is a connection there potentially worth cultivating. But would the Packers actually want to pull the trigger on acquiring an older version of the same player they just gave up a good amount to land?
There’s also an issue of health for Cobb. He has not played a full 16-game season since his Pro Bowl season with the Packers in 2014. He missed 11 games over his final three seasons in Green Bay, then went on to miss one with Dallas in 2019 and six with Houston in 2020. Rodgers’ desires aside, the Packers might have a difficult time justifying a trade for a 30-year-old wideout who consistently misses time with injuries.