Chris Cooley has been away from the gridiron since the 2012 season but he’s giving some thought to a comeback attempt, as Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post writes. The 33-year-old, who never formally retired, says that he feels “[expletive] awesome” and is confident that he can give it another go.
“If I went to camp, I could be anybody’s third tight end, worst case,” he said. “I have no doubt. Any team in the NFL, I could be their third tight end. There’s not a question in my mind.”
Cooley was just 30 when he decided to walk away from his NFL career and start a new one in sports radio. Cooley was cut by Washington in training camp in 2012 but was brought back during the playoffs when Fred Davis went down with an injury. That offseason, Cooley was leery of playing for anyone but Washington and he intimated that his asking price was higher than the offers he was receiving from other teams.
The tight end wound up signing a radio deal, though the contract included an out in case a football opportunity emerged. Steinberg writes that two NFL assistant coaches, including Jay Gruden who was with the Bengals at the time, informed him of their interest only to be told that Cooley was done. Given Gruden’s previous fondness of Cooley and the tight end’s deep connections to Washington, one can’t help but wonder if there could be a connection in D.C.
In nine seasons with Washington, Cooley hauled in a total of 429 receptions – the all-time high for any tight end in franchise history – 4,711 yards, and 33 touchdowns. The veteran made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2007, catching 66 balls for 786 yards and 8 touchdowns. He followed that up in 2008 with another Pro Bowl appearance thanks to his 83 catches, 849 yards, and one touchdown. In both campaigns, Cooley started in all 16 regular season contests.