Randall Cobb‘s long and storied career marches on. Cobb enters his 12th season on the cusp of his 32nd birthday. The decline in his on-field production is evident, but that does not necessarily mean his role on this retooled Green Bay Packers squad is diminished.
Cobb’s earlier success in the green and gold is unquestionable. He’s been a solid slot receiver and route runner with sure hands, and he earned Aaron Rodgers‘ trust quickly when his career started in 2011. Pro Bowl honors soon followed. In 2014, Cobb amassed over 1,200 receiving yards and a whopping 12 touchdowns. This was all done while he was proving himself as a solid option to return kicks on special teams. Years later, Cobb also spent some time taking snaps at running back when injuries were too much to overcome. Swiss Army knife players like him have immense value, and his tenure in Green Bay has been filled with wonderful plays and abounding memories.
Cobb’s role changed drastically upon his return from Texas. He finds himself at no better than third or fourth in the pecking order, pending Sammy Watkins‘ fate. Cobb hasn’t played a full season since 2015, and he has only played two full seasons in his entire NFL career. His injury history, coupled with his age, presents a tangible cap on how productive he will be going forward.
That isn’t to say that Cobb won’t have an impact. Brian Gutekunst and Rodgers collaborated to bring Cobb back for a reason. He is far and away the most experienced receiver in the pass-catching corps. His veteran presence and history with Rodgers make Cobb a prominent voice in the locker room. He knows what it takes to win — and to sustain success. Those qualities are hard to come by, and the Green Bay brass knows just how valuable he is.
If the team gets in a pinch, Rodgers will likely look to Cobb to catch an essential pass. Rodgers lost his most trustworthy player in Adams. While it looks like the Packers will likely utilize Aaron Jones in more wide positions this year, Cobb will be one of No. 12’s primary options in critical situations. Despite the paltry 375 yards, his five touchdowns in 2021 indicate the bond Cobb still shares with Rodgers. If nobody else steps up to be a red-zone threat, Cobb will surely come in handy.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Cobb’s presence on the team is that he is an insurance policy for Amari Rodgers, last year’s third-round pick. Amari Rodgers was entirely underwhelming in his rookie season. He struggled to make effective plays from scrimmage, and despite being hailed as an effective special teams player, he had enough gaffes to cause the coaching staff looks elsewhere. There is a chance that Amari Rodgers will blossom into a quality player. However, that remains speculative at best, as all the available evidence shows a concerning trend.
Regardless, bringing Cobb back last season says a great deal about who the Green Bay Packers are as an organization. As Aaron Rodgers famously said, “It’s about the people.” To see Gutekunst taking that into consideration before reuniting with one of the most beloved Packers of the last decade says a great deal about this franchise’s commitment not only to its players but also to its fans. Being a Packers fan is a truly special experience, and it is these nods that propel Green Bay to one of the NFL’s premier franchises despite it being located within the league’s smallest market.
As for what to expect from Cobb this season? The numbers will be contingent on whether or not he can stay healthy, but that is not a new story. His impact will be felt in other ways, though. Cobb’s influence will likely be a factor if the young receiver room steps up. Intangibles and contributions unquantifiable by stats make teams championship contenders, and the Packers appear to have that aspect of the roster locked down.