GM on Cobb trade: ‘Very important’ for Rodgers

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Brian Gutekunst left little to interpretation: the Green Bay Packers general manager brought receiver Randall Cobb back to Green Bay because Aaron Rodgers wanted it.

“I think that’s a big part of it,” Gutekunst said Thursday, one day after completing a trade with the Houston Texans to acquire Cobb. “Obviously without Aaron, I don’t think we would probably be pursuing that. Randall’s still a really good player. Seeing him last night just kind of reminded me what an impact he’ll have in our locker room and for our football team.

“But this was a very important thing for Aaron, and that’s why we did it.”

One of Rodgers’ desires that came up during Wednesday’s 32-minute press conference, when he thoroughly explained his beefs with the Packers, was the interest in having more input on who stays and who goes.

The Packers let Cobb leave in free agency after the 2018 season.

“I just want to be involved in conversations that affect my ability to do my job,” Rodgers said Wednesday.

Not only are Rodgers and Cobb close friends off the field, but Rodgers clearly feels comfortable with the veteran slot receiver on the field. Cobb has caught 71% of the passes thrown to him by Rodgers, the highest catch percentage of any receiver targeted at least 10 times by the reigning NFL MVP.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cobb’s 71% is slightly higher than former Packers receiver Jake Kumerow (69%), another player whose release was lamented by Rodgers.

Gutekunst said Rodgers brought up the need for a slot receiver in their end-of-season meeting following the 2020 season. Gutekunst used a third-round pick on one in this draft, Amari Rodgers. Cobb actually has served as a mentor to the rookie receiver in the past because Cobb was coached in college by Amari Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin.

Gutekunst said Aaron Rodgers’ contract did not have to be adjusted — nor did Rodgers give up any money — in order to acquire Cobb. But he said Rodgers’ deal will have to be altered at some point in order to give the Packers enough salary-cap space to get through the season.

Gutekunst gave up a sixth-round pick to acquire Cobb, and the Texans agreed to pay $3 million of Cobb’s base salary.

The Packers also signed veteran offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, who has played in 104 games with 47 starts — including 16 for the Tennessee Titans last season. The signing is insurance in case All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari isn’t ready for Week 1 while recovering from ACL surgery in January.

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