Randall Cobb

Texans Notes: Easterby, Kelly, Cobb

While Texans executive VP Jack Easterby will not become the team’s next GM, recent reports suggest that he will have a significant say in determining who the next head coach will be. And in a comprehensive piece detailing Easterby’s unconventional and sometimes controversial rise through the NFL front office ranks, Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop of SI.com suggest that might not necessarily be a good thing.

The article is well-worth a read for any NFL observer, but especially Texans fans. Some of the authors’ sources say that Easterby, who was brought in to improve the club’s culture, has only made it worse, and that he has secured his lofty position within the organization thanks largely to the inordinate amount of sway he has over owner Cal McNair. Indeed, one source said McNair is “blinded” by Easterby, who has also been accused of undermining other key figures — like former head coach Bill O’Brien — and who is said to have been a driving force behind the lopsided DeAndre Hopkins trade (for which O’Brien has shouldered most of the blame).

Of course, Easterby — who declined the authors’ invitation to tell his side of the story — has plenty of supporters as well, and it will be fascinating to see how his role will impact Houston’s HC/GM search and the team’s fortunes moving forward.

Now for more from the Texans:

  • If quarterback Deshaun Watson has it his way, the new Texans head coach will retain current offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Kelly has been with the organization since 2014 and was elevated to OC last year. Amidst an otherwise difficult 2020 campaign, Watson is enjoying a career year, and he gives his 34-year-old coordinator a great deal of credit for that. We previously heard that McNair would consider Watson’s input with respect to the HC search, so it stands to reason that he would also value his star QB’s opinion on his OC.
  • The Hopkins trade, along with assorted injuries and suspensions, have decimated Watson’s WR corps. Randall Cobb has been on IR since late November with a significant toe injury, and according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, surgery is a possibility. Cobb, 30, has an outside chance of returning this year, but with the Texans well out of the playoff picture, it probably makes more sense for him to start preparing for 2021.
  • The Texans selected cornerback John Reid in the fourth round of this year’s draft, but even after the Bradley Roby suspension and with Houston already looking ahead to next year, Reid is unlikely to see more defensive snaps, per Wilson. Defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver confirmed as much, saying that while he believes Reid has a great career ahead of him, he is not quite ready for a larger role. Reid has played just 60 defensive snaps on the season, and 32 of those came in Week 1.
  • LB Reggie Gilbert and DL Willie Henry are visiting the Texans, per Wilson. Gilbert and Henry were recently cut by the Jaguars and 49ers, respectively, and Houston will see if they can get anything out of two defenders who at one time showed they might be worthwhile pieces of an NFL roster.

Texans Place Randall Cobb On IR

The Texans picked up their third win of the season by beating the Patriots, but they picked up a couple of key injuries along the way. We just heard starting defensive tackle P.J. Hall is done for the year, and now Randall Cobb will be hitting the shelf.

The veteran receiver has a toe injury that is considered “significant,” a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Texans have since placed Cobb on IR.

Fellow receiver Kenny Stills picked up a quad injury on Sunday, and although we don’t know the severity on that one yet, it’s possible their offense is significantly shorthanded for their Thanksgiving trip to take on the Lions.

It’s a tough blow, as Cobb has been playing a big role in his first season in Houston. Through ten games he has 38 receptions for 441 yards and three touchdowns. He inked a three-year pact worth an impressive $27MM back in March. He turned 30 back in August, but outside of seven missed games in 2018 has mostly been pretty durable.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Thomas, Njoku, Watt, Jets

Saints head coach Sean Payton has said his team has no interest in trading star receiver Michael Thomas, though Thomas’ camp was recently said to be looking for potential deals. There has been no movement towards a Thomas trade, and whether that’s because New Orleans has no interest in dealing him or because the club has not received an offer it likes, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Thomas will stay put.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more rumors on players who could be on the move:

  • The Browns don’t want to trade tight end David Njoku, but Njoku has renewed his request to be dealt, and Rapoport says Cleveland has been fielding calls on the former first-rounder. It may take at least a fourth-round pick to get a deal done, but with Austin Hooper set to return and with the emergence of rookie Harrison Bryant, the Browns may elect to move Njoku.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Texans are at the center of the trade market, with one executive saying Houston could move as many as five players if it wants to. Rapoport expects the Packersinterest in Will Fuller — which dates back to the summer — to ramp up, but it will likely take a high pick to convince the Texans to move Fuller. Fellow WR Kenny Stills has also drawn some interest, though rival clubs see the contracts for Stills and Randall Cobb as prohibitive. DE J.J. Watt may be receptive to a trade, but considering his contract and age, other teams probably don’t value him like the Texans do.
  • The Jets have received calls on LB Avery Williamson, OTs George Fant and Chuma Edoga, and CB Quincy Wilson, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says the Steelers — who recently lost Devin Bush for the season — could be in the market for Williamson, and Edoga also seems like a good bet to be dealt since he does not look like a fit with the current regime.
  • La Canfora says teams have also called the Jets about WR Breshad Perriman and TE Chris Herndon, though Breer notes that safety Marcus Maye has not drawn much interest.
  • Rapoport names Dolphins RB Jordan Howard and Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister as two other players who could be moved. And though the Bengals are shopping disgruntled wideout John Ross, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com says there hasn’t been interest in Ross (Twitter link).

Teams Calling Texans On Fuller, Cobb

Despite trading DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans entered the season with a bloated wide receiver payroll. They are now 1-6 and between GMs, leading teams to inquire about some of their players.

Teams have contacted the Texans about their wide receivers, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, who notes the team has fielded calls on Will Fuller and Randall Cobb (Twitter link).

The trade deadline looms Nov. 3, though teams who would like to deploy their new players in Week 9 would need to make deals this week in order for them to begin practicing ahead of those games. COVID-19 testing protocols require players to pass six tests — each a day apart — before practicing with new teams.

Fuller and Cobb represent half of Houston’s veteran receiving corps, which also includes 2020 trade acquisition Brandin Cooks and 2019 trade get Kenny Stills. Fuller, who is playing on a $10.16MM fifth-year option salary, would bring far more value back to the Texans in a deal than a Cobb swap would. The then-Bill O’Brien-run Texans signed Cobb to a three-year, $27MM deal in March. Shipping out the 30-year-old slot receiver would not bring especially notable compensation, and Wilson adds the Texans are not receiving strong offers for either player as of Wednesday afternoon.

Houston having dealt Hopkins would seemingly make a Fuller trade less likely. He has emerged as Deshaun Watson‘s top target, hauling in 31 passes for a team-high 490 yards and five touchdowns. Although the former first-round pick is a free agent at year’s end and has been unable to stay healthy for most of his career, the Texans do not have any surefire building blocks at this position for Watson moving forward. Cooks would qualify, but the O’Brien acquisition is on his fourth team. Cooks, 27, has also come up in trade talks. While the Texans appear ready to deal one of their veteran wideouts, it is unclear as of now which one will go.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Contract Details: Bulaga, Cobb, Collins

Here are the latest contract details as of Sunday night. We will focus on the AFC here.

  • Bryan Bulaga, T (Chargers): Three years, $30MM. $19.25MM guaranteed; $10MM signing bonus. Bulaga’s salaries in 2020 ($1.5MM) and 2021 ($7.75MM) are guaranteed. A $2.5MM roster bonus is due on Day 3 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Randall Cobb, WR (Texans): Three years, $27MM. $18MM guaranteed; $6MM signing bonus. Base salaries in 2020 ($3.75MM) and ’21 ($8.25MM) are guaranteed; non-guaranteed salary of $7.9MM in 2022. Wilson notes (on Twitter).
  • Rodney Gunter, DL (Jaguars): Three years, $18MM. $11.15MM guaranteed; $4.25MM signing bonus. 2020 and ’21 base salaries of $2MM and $4.9MM are guaranteed. Non-guaranteed 2022 base of $5.4MM, per Wilson (on Twitter).
  • Vic Beasley, OLB (Titans): One year, $9.5MM. The $9.5MM is guaranteed and includes a $6MM signing bonus. $2.5MM worth of sack-based incentives exist in the deal, Wilson adds (on Twitter).
  • Maliek Collins, DT (Raiders): One year, $6MM. $5.75MM guaranteed. Deal includes a $1.5MM sack-based incentive, Wilson tweets.
  • De’Vante Bausby, CB (Broncos): One year, $825K. The deal contains no guaranteed money, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

Texans To Sign Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb is headed to Houston. The Texans have agreed to sign the former Cowboys wide receiver and longtime Packers star, according to old friend James Jones (on Twitter).

Once finalized, it’ll be a three-year deal worth $27MM. The pact also includes $18.75MM guaranteed – a solid haul considering Cobb’s age and injury history.

While Cobb took a one-year, $5MM deal with the NFL’s other Texas team in 2019, this Houston pact comes in nearly as high as the deal the Packers gave him amid his prime in 2015. Cobb played out his four-year, $40MM Green Bay deal and fared well in Dallas on a prove-it pact.

Cobb, 30 in August, stayed healthy last year and appeared in 15 games for the Cowboys. Although Dallas fell short of the postseason, he had a productive campaign with 55 catches for 828 yards and three touchdowns.

In Houston, he’ll try to be part of the solution after yesterday’s shocking trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. Cobb will join Kenny Stills and Will Fuller in Houston, likely stepping into a familiar slot role while the deep threats work the boundaries. However, Cobb is the only member of this trio signed beyond 2020. Both Stills and Fuller are set for UFA status in 2021, so the Texans still have work to do at wide receiver after Monday’s stunner.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Rumors: Cooper, Cobb, Giants

Lots of changes are on the way for the Cowboys under new head coach Mike McCarthy, but the hope is to keep two of their big-name wide receivers in the fold. On Wednesday, McCarthy confirmed that the plan is to retain star Amari Cooper and former Packers star Randall Cobb on the roster (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic).

Cobb is coming off of a one-year, $5MM deal with $4MM guaranteed. McCarthy saw the slot receiver up-close in his prime, so it stands to reason that he could have a role in the offense.

Keeping Cooper, meanwhile, would be much more costly. Last year, the former first-round pick posted 79 catches with career-high marks in receiving yards (1,189) and touchdowns (8). He’s indicated that he won’t strictly seek dollars in his next deal, but any multi-year deal for Cooper will place him at or near the top of the WR market.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Giants are “open for business” when it comes to trading back in the draft, GM Dave Gettleman says (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). Still, the GM knows that there’s “risk” involved with giving up a prized selection, such as the Giants’ No. 4 overall pick. If the Giants stand pat, they could be in line for a prime Gettleman “hog mollie” in Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills. They also have ample cap room to fill their other needs, especially after cutting linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin.
  • If the Giants use the franchise tag to keep defensive lineman Leonard Williams and classify him as a defensive tackle, they may have to prepare for a fight, Vacchiano hears. Tagging Williams as a defensive end would net him about $2MM more in 2020 comp, but he might not have much of a case. Last year, Williams saw 466 DT snaps versus just 255 DE snaps. His split wasn’t all that different with the Jets, either.
  • No surprise here, but Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says the team will prioritize defense with many notables on course for free agency. “In general, defense is the priority for this offseason,” Jones said (via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas News). “Whether it’s getting some our own guys back or whether it’s free agency or whether it’s the draft, if you look at our roster obviously most of our offensive roster are either under contract or are going to have restrictions to where we’re going to have a great opportunity to keep them.” Secondary stalwart Byron Jones is getting a lot of attention, but several defensive line pieces including Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins are also out-of-contract.

Injury Updates: Packers, Adams, Cardinals

No surprise here, but Davante Adams will miss another game this week, per the Packers‘ final injury report. This marks the wide receiver’s third-straight missed contest as he rehabs from a toe ailment.

Adams had a strong start to the season with 25 receptions for 378 yards before going down and seemed on his way to matching last year’s 111/1,386 posting. The Packers were able to get past the Lions without him and they’ll aim to do the same against the Raiders.

Here’s the latest on other bumps and bruises from around the NFL:

  • Uh oh – Cardinals running back David Johnson is dealing with a new injury. After tweaking his back against Atlanta, Johnson will be a game time decision thanks to a sore ankle, head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters.
  • The Cowboys will have offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, and cornerback Byron Jones are set to play on Sunday against the Eagles, as Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. All five are listed as questionable for the game, but they took the practice field and Friday and should be good to go.
  • The Eagles, on the other hand, will try to fly without: linebacker Nigel Bradham (ankle), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (foot), cornerback Avonte Maddox (concussion/neck), tackle Jason Peters (knee), and running back Darren Sproles (quadricep).
  • Wide receiver Kenny Stills is set to return on Sunday against the Colts, per the club’s injury report.

Packers Did Not Make Offer To Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb, who signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in March after a long run with the Packers, appears to be feeling a bit resentful towards his old team. Cobb recently said during an interview with ESPN Wisconsin (h/t Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal), “It’s like the ex-girlfriend that broke up with you. When you see her five years later, you hope you’re in a better situation than you were before — married, with kids, and you’re able to say, ‘Yeah, I did better without you.'”

Despite a Green Bay tenure that saw him catch 517 passes for 6,120 yards and 46 touchdowns in 116 career games (including playoffs), and despite being a key figure in a number of memorable moments during that time, Cobb says the fact that the club never advanced to the Super Bowl while he was on the roster was a major disappointment, especially given how talented some of those rosters were. And he apparently wanted to come back to the Packers for another shot at helping to bring a championship to Title Town, but the interest was not mutual.

Cobb said the Packers never extended him an offer in free agency, and he even waited to see if Green Bay would change its mind after he started receiving offers from other teams, but that did not happen. So he ultimately accepted a one-year, $5MM pact to become the primary slot receiver for the Cowboys, who have lofty ambitions of their own in 2019.

The fact that Green Bay did not attempt to bring Cobb back is not terribly surprising, as he has dealt with a number of injuries since signing a four-year, $40MM contract with the club in March 2015, and he is clearly not the same player he was at the height of his career. He can still be serviceable, and the fact that the Packers are going into the season with Davante Adams and a host of mostly unproven talent at wide receiver may be irritating to him, but from an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the Packers may have made the right call.

Green Bay travels to Dallas on October 6, a date that Cobb surely has circled on his calendar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Gurley, Panthers, Cowboys, Giants

Much has been made about Todd Gurley and his knee, which caused him issues in the 2018 postseason. The Rams didn’t do much to quiet those rumors when they tabbed Memphis running back Darrell Henderson with the No. 70 pick in the draft.

The team, however, is adamant the pick of Henderson has nothing to do with Gurley’s status, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. Though the team did mention monitoring the perennial Pro Bowl back’s workload.

“Like we have said all along, we anticipate Todd being a huge part of this like he has been the last couple of years,” head coach Sean McVay said. “As far as managing the workload, those are things that we talk about with Todd and as you continue to get educated on, is that something that we should do for the long haul or something that is or isn’t going to affect Todd most importantly and how does that affect our team? But we added a really good playmaker was a big thing.”

Henderson was one of college football’s stars in 2018, rushing for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 214 carries. His 8.9 yards per rush was no fluke, as he posted the exact same average as a sophomore in 2017.

It will be interesting how the Rams handle their backfield in 2019. In addition to Gurley and Henderson, the team also matched an offer for running back Malcolm Brown.

Heres’ more from around the NFC:

  • Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has hired Drew Rosenhaus to represent him, per Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen (via Twitter). Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey will team up in repping the Maryland product, who posted 788 yards on 55 receptions in 2018.
  • The Cowboys are expected to be extremely cautious with cornerback Byron Jones, who underwent offseason hip surgery, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Machota mentioned Jones, a breakout star in his first season as a cornerback, will be “highly managed,” but they do expect him to be ready for the start of the season.
  • Sticking in Dallas, new slot receiver Randall Cobb said he signed with the team because he wanted to play on a contender, Machota writes“Once I talked to everybody I knew this was the place,” Cobb said. “I definitely believe in this team. I felt like I wanted to be on a team that was a contender and I definitely believe that we have the ability, it’s just putting the pieces together.” Cobb replaces Cole Beasley in the slot, after the latter left for Buffalo early in the 2019 offseason.
  • The Giants will bring back veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets. Though the team drafted three cornerbacks, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman left no doubt Jenkins would be back, saying, “Janoris has a bunch of puppies he has to train.”