The longer that Randall Cobb is not a Packer, it becomes more and more likely that he won’t be wearing a “G” on his head.
I think Cobb would be a great fit for the Packers. But obviously the Packers aren’t going to throw $11-$12 million at a slot receiver. It also doesn’t help that Cobb has only netted 14 percent of the team’s targets since 2011.
And if Cobb makes the foolish decision to take the money while catching passes from an average quarterback, perhaps the Packers should go another route by making an overture for Julius Thomas.
The last time the Packers had a tight end that was among the team leaders in receiving was in 2011. Jermichael Finley’s 92 targets placed him third behind Pro Bowler Greg Jennings (101) and Jordy Nelson (96). Finley was also third in receiving yards (767) and touchdowns (8).
Tight end is a separation position in the NFL. Either you have Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham or Thomas. Or you’ve got somebody else. Thomas had the luxury of being Peyton Manning’s safety valve. He was tied for fourth in the NFL with 12 touchdowns — and he missed three games.
Right now, the Packers have over $33 million in salary cap space. Last year, the Packers were a few plays away from advancing to the Super Bowl. Ron Wolf smartly added guys like Santana Dotson, Don Beebe and Desmond Howard in free agency. But Keith Jackson was arguably the most important, by catching a team-high 10 touchdowns en route to a Super Bowl title.
Graham leads all tight ends with an average salary of $10 million followed by Gronkowski’s $9 million next season. Even though Thomas is an injury-risk by only playing in 32 out of a possible 64 games during his four years as a pro, he has proven that he is one of the best. He can get separation from defensive backs, and isn’t afraid to attack linebackers.
The biggest knock on Thomas has been his blocking ability. But that shouldn’t matter all that much, because Finley didn’t really care about blocking either.
Like Cobb, Thomas is a versatile threat. He can line up in a typical tight end formation and kill opponents with seam routes. He can also line up outside, use the sideline and his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage by getting just about any ball he wants.
The Packers have kicked the tires on Richard Rodgers. Let’s be honest, it’s nothing special. After looking like a lost sheep for much of the season, Rodgers finally appeared capable in December. The Packers don’t have the time to wait and see if he plummets into a sophomore slump.
And we all know what happened to Brandon Bostick.
The Packers’ tight end position is crying for help. The NFC North as a whole doesn’t have overly-talented linebackers and it’s time to attack that weakness with arguably the best pass-catching tight end in the league.
Losing Cobb might cause the offense to lose a step or two, but bringing in Thomas would even things out in a hurry. And more importantly, it would take some pressure off young receivers Davante Adams, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis — three guys that played a total of 19 games last year.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn