Randall Cobb didn’t mean it as a dig at his previous team. But after spending two years away from Green Bay, one in Dallas and another in Houston, the wide receiver was clearly glad the Texans traded him to the Packers for a reported sixth-round pick.
“I can breathe again. I’ve seen the other side. And I’m excited to be back here,” Cobb said Thursday after his first training camp practice. “I’m smiling. It’s funny, my teammates are saying, ‘You act like you just got out of prison.’ I said, ‘well, you know.’ I’m very, very, very excited to be here.
“And that’s nothing against Houston. Whenever I talk about that I’m thinking of Green Bay is like a Fortune 500 company and the Texans are new franchise that’s a startup, figuring out their way.”
Cobb hit the field Thursday with Davante Adams’ arm draped over his shoulder and a huge smile on his face. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a point of making sure he was the one throwing to Cobb during individual drills. He was wearing someone else’s helmet and cleats because his hadn’t arrived yet, but it all felt very familiar, as the Kentucky product returned to the place he played his first eight years in the NFL after being a second-round pick in 2011. He ranks seventh in franchise history with 470 catches, while his 5,524 yards is 12th all-time, as are his 41 receiving touchdowns.
The Packers let him walk in free agency after an injury plagued 2018 season and general manager Brian Gutekunst admitted that if not for Rodgers using what the quarterback hopes is a new found role in personnel conversations, it wouldn’t have happened.
“I think that is a big part of it,” Gutekunst said of making the move to make Rodgers happy. “Obviously without Aaron I don’t think we would probably be pursuing that. Randall is still a really good player. Seeing him last night just reminded me what an impact he’ll have in our locker room and for our football team. But this was a very important thing for Aaron and that’s why we did it.”
For Cobb, that answer brought him back to the feelings around his departure in free agency, one in which he never got a call from the Packers to potentially bring him back at a reduced salary. Instead, he signed with the Cowboys.
“We’re here, I’m back and that’s in the past. It’s about today, it’s about moving forward. It’s about being the best that we can be today for this team and try to find a way to win a championship,” Cobb said. “None of this stuff matters. We can talk about it all we want. There can be stories on it, can say whatever you want, but I’m going to come here I’m going to do my job. I’m going to be the best teammate I can be. I’m going to continue to be the person that I am. And hopefully I can bring some positivity and some energy around and be who I am.”
Cobb admitted he got emotional as he returned, even shedding a few tears when he got into town Wednesday night. It was a moment he wasn’t sure would come, though he and Rodgers spoke a lot about potentially playing together again. Cobb added that the idea of Rodgers retiring this offseason was very real and that he thought about it as well. But the two very good friends talked each other through those feelings and determined they wanted to keep going.
“Just being able to hash it out together and have an understanding of what we want to accomplish,” Cobb said. “As time went on, realizing how much love we still have for this game, and situations change and opportunities arise, and I’m just glad to be a part of this opportunity that we have before us this year.”
The soon-to-be 31-year-old Cobb is returning to a team that looks a little bit different in the wide receiver room. Davante Adams has ascended to be the top player at his position in the NFL. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have both produced at a high level at times. There is a veteran in Devin Funchess and a rookie third-round pick in Amari Rodgers. Add in weapons like running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, along with a productive tight end like Robert Tonyan, and there may not be a ton of opportunities for Cobb.
“I’m a piece of this puzzle, I’m not the whole picture. I’m a very small piece,” Cobb said. “I don’t care about how many snaps I get, I don’t care how many catches, I don’t care how many yards or touchdowns. If you don’t know that about me by now, I don’t know what else to tell you. I’m here to win a championship for the football team. I don’t care about Pro Bowls, I don’t care about All-Pro, I don’t care about any of those things. It’s about finding a way to win a championship and doing my piece, whether it be on the field or mentoring or leadership or special teams, whatever is asked of me, I will be there and I’ll do it.”