‘Pressure is released’ for Packers’ Cobb with new contract in hand
At age 24, Randall Cobb finds himself as the second-most experienced receiver in the Packers' room. That means teaching the younger players while also still trying to put up big individual numbers in 2015.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Randall Cobb spent last year wondering what it would take to earn the type of lucrative new contract with the Green Bay Packers that he was looking for. A 2014 season with 91 catches, 12 touchdowns and nearly 1,300 yards answered that in the form of a four-year, $40 million contract.
Cobb maintained throughout the process leading into free agency that his preference was to remain with the Packers. It’s the right thing for a professional athlete to say, it’s just that sometimes they actually end up meaning it. Cobb did just that when turning down more money elsewhere.
Now that he’s back where he always wanted to stay, Cobb isn’t feeling any pressure or expectations as the NFL’s eighth-highest paid wide receiver. In fact, it’s the complete opposite feeling for him.
"A lot of times, me personally, I’m my biggest critic," Cobb said Tuesday. "I thought (during last season) it may have been one play that could change everything. ‘Oh, if I do this one play, then they’re going to sign me back.’ No, that’s not how it works.
"That pressure is released. I don’t have to worry about those things. I can focus on continuing to work on my craft and do different things and just get better."
Cobb has another wide receiver sitting only a couple lockers away who’s only one spot behind him on the list of the league’s top-paid players at the position. That’s Jordy Nelson, who re-signed on the first day of training camp in 2014 for four years and $39 million.
Going from a rookie deal that was worth $3 million over four years to one that paid Cobb more than four times that amount in a signing bonus can be a daunting realization for players. However, regardless of how much he’s making, Cobb is determined to keep his approach the same.
"Money isn’t the thing with me," he said. "I’m going to continue to be the best player I can be. No dollar sign or no expectation, I have the biggest expectations for myself. Nobody in this room, nobody in this building, none of you all (in the media), no fan can set expectations that aren’t higher than my own. Having a mindset like that, I don’t really worry about expectations."
One expectation that others will place upon Cobb is repeating the type of production that he had last season. Or, perhaps, expecting him to improve upon those statistics.
If that doesn’t happen, though, just remember that Cobb was the first to say it was always going to be unlikely.
"It’s going to be hard to top what I did last year," Cobb said.
The way he figures it, with the development of second-year receiver Davante Adams, Cobb is going to get fewer than the 126 targets that came his way last season.
"Like we’re talking about with Davante coming along, that adds a target, and he’s going to get more targets; he’s going to get more opportunities," Cobb said. "Like I’ve always said, you have to make the most of the opportunities you do get. I look forward to this receiving core. We have a great offense. We have a lot of weapons."
Green Bay has quality depth at wide receiver on its roster. Behind Nelson, Cobb and Adams, there’s rookie third-round pick Ty Montgomery, plus second-year players Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. Running back Eddie Lacy also became a big part of the passing offense with 29 receptions over the final nine regular-season games last season. That’s a trend that’s likely going to continue.
At age 24, Cobb finds himself as the second-most experienced receiver in the room. That means teaching the younger players while also still trying to put up big, individual numbers.
"It can be anything from the playbook — it’s a complex deal; it can be technique-wise," Cobb said. "They can ask me about a technique on a certain route or what can they do differently to create that separation so they can get open. Just being able to help them in different ways and put them in a position to succeed."
Four years ago, it was Cobb on the receiving end of that type of advice from a veteran receiving group that included Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones, as well as Nelson.
One thing that has escaped Cobb thus far that those other four receivers achieved is winning a Super Bowl. As a second-round draft pick in 2011, Cobb joined the team less than three months after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV.
With all contract pressure released, winning a ring for himself has his full attention this upcoming season.
"Just focused on everything I can to get this team to the Super Bowl," Cobb said. "It doesn’t change anything. I have to come in here every day and prove myself. I have to continue to get better, I have to continue to be a helping hand for these younger guys and help them understand the offense and what we’re trying to accomplish."
Even if Cobb doesn’t have 91 catches during the 2015 regular season, he’s definitely looking to increase his touchdown total up from 12. And maybe that one more touchdown is the difference between Cobb winning a ring or coming up empty.
"My mindset is always to score every time I touch the ball," he said. "I’m going to do the best I can every time I touch it."