The Green Bay Packers said goodbye to veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb for the second time this week. Cobb signed as a free agent with the New York Jets and will join former Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers there.
Cobb will be remembered as a great Packer and will be a Packers Hall of Famer for sure as soon as he’s eligible. He’s fifth on the Packers all-time list with 532 career catches in a Packers uniform, two more than Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton. Cobb is also 11th in Packers history in receiving yards with 6,316 and 10th in touchdown catches with 47.
Packers fans have many great memories of Cobb since he was drafted by the Packers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He was with the team from 2011-2018 and then again from 2021 till 2022 for a total of 10 seasons.
Cobb was not a tall receiver, but he was quick and smart and elusive when he had the ball in his hands. Cobb was a skilled receiver lining up either in the slot or on the boundary and he could get open in the middle of the field and come up big in key situations.
The former University of Kentucky star made an impact in his very first NFL game. Late in the first quarter, he caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers.
Years later, Cobb made a surprising admission when he said, “Aaron checked to a play, and I ran the wrong route. I happened to be open, and he threw me the ball and I was able to make something happen with it.” Then he added, “Since I scored, I kind of got away with it.”
Then, midway through the third quarter, Cobb returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, tying an NFL record for the longest kick return.
It was a heck of a start for Cobb who caught 25 passes in his rookie season and served as the team’s primary kick and punt returner.
In 2013, Cobb missed 10 games due to injury, but he returned for the season finale against the Bears and had a magic moment that gave the Packers the NFC North Division title. The winner of this game would win the division, the loser would miss the playoffs.
The Packers trailed 28-27 with 38 seconds left and faced a 4th-and-8 from the Chicago 48. Rodgers was able to avoid the rush and found Cobb deep downfield for the winning touchdown. The Packers won 33-28. Both Cobb and Rodgers returned from injury for this game and came through in the clutch.
Cobb’s best season came in 2014. That year, he caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. He earned Pro Bowl honors for the first and only time in his career.
In the 2016 playoffs against the New York Giants, Cobb came up with a big catch on a Hail Mary on the final play of the first half. He caught a 42-yard touchdown pass by outjumping the Giants defenders. It gave the Packers a 14-6 lead at the half. The touchdown changed the momentum and the Packers cruised to a 38-13 win and Cobb finished the game with five catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns.
In 2018, Cobb had another magic moment in the season opener against Chicago. The Packers trailed 17-0 at halftime and Rodgers was injured in the first half. He managed to return in the third quarter and found Cobb on a 75-yard touchdown with 2:13 left to give the Packers a dramatic 24-23 comeback win. Cobb had to run through the Chicago secondary to reach the end zone.
The Packers parted ways with Cobb after the 2018 season. He spent 2019 with the Dallas Cowboys and 2020 with the Houston Texans with declining production due in part to nagging injuries.
Rodgers asked Packers GM Brian Gutekunst to reacquire Cobb and the Packers gave up a sixth-round pick to bring back the veteran wideout. Cobb was clearly on the downside of his career. He played in 12 games and started three but caught just 28 passes for 375 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2022, injuries again caused Cobb to miss four games. He caught 34 passes for 417 yards and one touchdown. He was no longer a difference maker, but he was a valuable mentor to rookies like Christian Watson, Samori Toure and Romeo Doubs.
It was not a surprise that Cobb joined Rodgers in New York. He is entering his 13th NFL season and it remains to be seen how much he can help the Jets on the field in 2023.
But Rodgers will always be remembered as a great Packer and a great teammate and his place in the history of the team and the hearts of Packers fans is secure.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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