Tight end Chris Cooley was released on August 28th, 2012 after an eight year career with the Washington Redskins, this according to nfl.com. Cooley was a 2 time Pro Bowl selection in 2007 and 2008. When playing a full season, he only averaged below 10 yards per catch in one season, which was his rookie season in 2004. Reaching a high of 83 catches in 2008, he has been a force to reckon with. In 2006, he averaged 12.9 yard per catch. Our own tight end, Jason Witten has not averaged that much in one season.
The difference between Witten and Cooley is that Witten gets more yards per season. Injuries slowed Cooley down in 2009 and 2011 as played less than 8 games in both of those seasons. He broke his ankle in 2009 and had arthroscopic knee surgery in January 2011. During the 2011 season, he broke his finger during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. To make matters worse for him, he was told by team doctors that his knee needed an additional four to five weeks of recovery from the surgery he had at the beginning of the year.
Cooley was placed on injured reserve in 2009 and 2011. In his return to play this season, SI.com reporter Peter King stated, “Cooley looked to be in great shape during training camp.”
How could the Cowboys benefit from having Chris Cooley?
Jason Garrett, the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, can run his two tight end sets a bit more effectively. Current Tight End Jason Witten and Cooley are the same age, so splitting time would be something that could be done. This could be done so that Witten and Cooley can play a little bit longer in the league. We already have a 2 running back system in place, so having a two starting tight end system in place would be a benefit to the team and both to Witten and Cooley.
Statistically, Witten and Cooley match up very well. For their career average of yards per catch, they are only separated by .4 of a yard. Witten is at 11.4 yards per catch, while Cooley is at 11.0.
Another upside to having Cooley, if Jason Witten is slow to recovery from his spleen injury; it would be better to have Cooley than John Phillips, a 4th year player who has only contributed 2 complete seasons in 2009 and 2011. Cooley also played some fullback, so having a multi-positioned player plays into the Cowboys favor.
A downside of having Cooley would be his hit on the salary cap. According to a February 23rd article on the ESPNDallas.com website, Dallas has 19 players counting more than $1 million dollars against their salary cap. Cooley counted nearly $4 million dollars against the Redskins, this according to rotoworld.com. The other factor to consider is that Cooley wants a starting job. Redskins’ officials suggested that Cooley wanted to be released so that he could find a starting job elsewhere.
NFL.com reports that there are 6 possible suitors that could use Cooley’s services and not one of those teams are the Cowboys. Gregg Rosenthal, the editor for Around the League states that the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, and a return to Washington at a reduce salary cap hit are all possibilities.
Could the Cowboys structure a deal to get Cooley? If Jerry Jones wanted him enough, he could get it done somehow. Jones has one tool that the other 31 teams do not have…Stephen Jones, Jerry’s son. Stephen Jones is very good at getting the numbers to work for the Cowboys.
I cringed when Cooley would make a big play against the Cowboys, not just once a year but twice a year as we have to play against the NFC East rival Redskins. It would be a nice sight to see Cooley in blue and silver, making those same plays against his former teammates.