One of the unfortunate realities about life in the United States is that everybody seems to think they are experts on everything. No matter what line of work you’re in, it’s annoying when somebody who has never spent a second in your shoes comes up to you and starts telling you what to do.
There’s always a temptation to throw up your hands and say, “Okay we’ll do it your way!” But chances are, if you follow uneducated advice the result is going to be a total failure. When the inevitable disaster arrives as the consequence of the bad choice, you’re going to be the one who takes the blame.
It’s even worse when it comes to high profile jobs like being the general manager of the Green Bay Packers. No matter how many all pro players you pick, or how many consecutive years you go to the playoffs, everyone always thinks that their “brilliant” signing strategy is exactly what the team needs to win more championships.
For years, folks sitting on bar stools have complained that the Packers haven’t done enough in free agency. However, these conversations are never accompanied by any discussion of salary cap consequences. It’s easy to say, “Sign everyone!” It’s a lot harder to pay attention to the responsible allocation of limited resources.
As part of the Aaron Rodgers disgruntlement package, the rumor is that the Packers are in the process of acquiring Randall Cobb. Now, every Packer fan has fond memories of Cobb. He was an excellent performer for the team and he is a high character individual. But as a football move, acquiring Cobb doesn’t make any sense. Here’s why.
He’s been injury prone
Randall Cobb hasn’t played 16 games since 2014. He’ll be 31 going into 2021, and age plus a history of injuries is a recipe for failure in the NFL.
Cobb has still shown some decent production over the last few years. In 2019 he had over 800 yards with Dallas. Still, he’s been at less than 500 receiving yards for two of the last three years.
The Packers just drafted a Cobb clone in Amari Rodgers. If the Packers acquire Cobb, it’s likely that Cobb will get injured at some point in the season and Rodgers will handle all of Cobb’s duties anyway.
He’ll cost too much
One thing NFL fans always seem to fail to recognize is that when you have an MVP caliber player on the roster, his contract hangs around your neck like an albatross. The best example is how dominant the Seahawks were when Russell Wilson was on his rookie deal, versus what they’ve done since he got his payday.
The problem with a big contract is that it prevents you from surrounding star players with a star roster.
Cobb is currently on a 3 year, 27 million dollar contract with the Texans. Perhaps part of the acquisition of Cobb will entail reducing his cap number. Still, the cap ramifications of this move are concerning. Spending too much on an aging receiver might cause problems a year or two down the road when the team is trying to resign Jaire Alexander or Darnell Savage.
He’ll cost a young player a roster spot
The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” business. Smart teams draft promising players and hide them on their roster to develop for a few years. It seems like every year, a guy emerges out of nowhere to make a huge impact. Robert Tonyan’s production in 2020 is an example.
Does signing Randall Cobb mean the Packers part ways with Devin Funchess? Funchess is only 26 years old, has shown solid production in the NFL, and looks the part. I like Funchess’s ceiling more than I like Cobb’s floor.
Or what about Equanimeous St. Brown? He’s another young player on an inexpensive deal that has the frame and the experience to start making a contribution. He’s shown some flashes of production, and it would be a shame to lose a player who’s best days are ahead for one who’s best days are clearly behind.
It’s better to move forward
Don’t get me wrong, if Cobb returns to Green Bay, there will be some nice, nostalgic moments. However, even in his last season with the Packers, honest fans could recognize that he’d lost a step.
If it costs a draft pick to bring Cobb to Green Bay, that’s yet more future currency being spent on a player who is past his prime.
Green Bay Packer management has to juggle Rodgers’s planet sized contract and his galaxy sized ego. If we look at this deal as a means of pacifying the MVP, then it makes a certain amount of sense. However, fans need to keep in mind that if we don’t have the cash to pay Alexander or some other developing star later down the road, the Cobb deal will be to blame.