Last year, Randall Cobb vowed he wouldn’t let the pressure of playing for a new deal get to him.
“I think the most important thing is to go out every day and just prove myself, and the time (to be given a contract extension) will come,” Cobb said during the first week of training camp last summer. “If it’s meant to be, if it’s supposed to be, if I’m supposed to get an extension, if I’m meant to get an extension, it’ll come whenever it’s supposed to. I can’t worry about that, I can control what I can control, and that’s my work ethic, that’s the way I go about my business and going out and doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Instead, his contract status weighed on him like a ton of bricks. And Cobb’s knees buckled in the Week 3 loss at Detroit, when he caught three passes for 29 yards and had two drops. A bitterly disappointed Cobb called his performance “embarrassing” several times in the Ford Field.
Cobb, however, was brilliant for the rest of the season. After he “found peace in the situation,” as he put it in March, Cobb during the final 13 regular-season games had five games of at least 100 receiving yards and six games of at least six receptions en route to a season total of 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Cobb got his financial reward — a four-year, $40 million deal inked just before the start of free agency.
If there was pressure to earn that long-term security last year, there will be no pressure to perform to that level this year.
“This time last year,” Cobb said after Tuesday’s organized team activity, “I was thinking about, ‘OK, what is it that I have to do to get to that point?’ It’s really out of your control. You just have to go out there and continue to practice and do the things that you do. A lot of times, me personally, I’m my biggest critic. I think 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. Just 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 knows that he can be better but it might not translate into better numbers. Last year, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers adjusted to life without James Jones and Jermichael Finley, the Packers featured a two-headed passing game. Among receivers, Cobb tied for eighth in receptions, 11th in yards and fourth in touchdowns.
It could be a different statistical story this season, with Davante Adams entering his second season, Jeff Janis and Jared Abbrederis being potential contributors and a third-round pick used on Ty Montgomery.
“It’s going to be hard (to post better statistics),” Cobb said. “Like we’re talking about with Davante coming along, that adds a target. He’s going to get more targets, he’s going to get more opportunities. Like I’ve always said, you have to make the most of the opportunities you do get. I look forward to this receiving corps. We have a great offense. We have a lot of weapons. Us spreading the ball out, it’s going to be hard to top what I did last year, but my mind-set is always to score every time I touch the ball. I’m going to do the best I can every time I touch it.”
With last year’s monster production, Cobb got the job security he wanted. Other than the amount of money in his checking account, nothing else has changed, he says. No different than when he arrived as a second-round pick in 2011, Cobb said he wants to prove himself. That means he’s going to keep working as hard as he did while growing up in Alcoa, Tenn. The statistics are nice but the Super Bowl ring is the thing that drives him.
“I’m going to continue to be the best player I can be,” Cobb said. “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, no fan can set expectations that are higher than my own. Having a mind-set like that, I don’t really worry about expectations.”firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.