GREEN BAY — Randall Cobb confirmed his news via a GIF of Woody from Toy Story. Clay Matthews announced his with an artsy PhotoShop of him in a new uniform in front of the Hollywood sign.
And just like that Tuesday evening, on Twitter and in real life, two iconic Green Bay Packers veterans were gone – Cobb to the Dallas Cowboys, Matthews to the Los Angeles Rams.
ESPN reported that Cobb received a one-year, $5 million deal from the Cowboys, who were in the market for a slot receiver after Cole Beasley’s free-agent departure last week.
NFL Network reported that Matthews received a two-year deal which could be worth up to $16.75 million with the Rams, who likely will use him as a situational, rotational pass rusher in hopes of keeping him healthy and making him more impactful.
While neither move came as a shock after each player had statistically unproductive seasons in the final years of their second contracts with the Packers, their departures signaled the end of the eras of two players who made a host of unforgettable plays during their careers.
Cobb played all four years of a $40 million deal he signed in March 2015, the last time he hit free agency; Matthews finished out a five-year, $66 million extension he signed in April 2013 and had never been a free agent before this.
Matthews, 32, departs as the Packers’ all-time leader in sacks, having registered 83.5 regular-season sacks (plus another 11 in the playoffs) during 10 seasons in Green Bay. Cobb, 28, leaves after catching 517 passes for 6,120 yards and 46 touchdowns in 116 career games, including playoffs.
But neither player had the impact last season that he’d made in past years. And late in the 2018 season, both players acknowledged that their time with the Packers might be coming to a close.
Cobb missed six games with a hamstring injury and another with a concussion and finished with just 38 receptions for 383 yards and two touchdowns after a nine-catch, 142-yard performance in the season-opener against Chicago, in which he caught a game-winning 75-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to cap the Packers’ come-from-behind victory.
His departure comes a year after another of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets, Jordy Nelson, was cut with one year left on his contract. Without Cobb, the Packers have Geronimo Allison, second-year wideouts Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore, and former UW-Whitewater star Jake Kumerow behind No. 1 wideout Davante Adams.
“Obviously, I can’t sit here and say that that hasn’t crossed my mind,” Cobb said in late November. “But I remind myself and I remind my wife (Aiyda) that, ‘We don’t know and we won’t know. So let’s focus on today, let’s focus on the time that we do know we’re going to be here.’
“I’m sure that Jordy didn’t think that he wouldn’t be here. That’s a part of the business, that’s part of life. Things change, things happen.”
Matthews stayed healthy and played all 16 games, but he managed just 3.5 sacks – the fourth consecutive season in which he failed to reach double digits in sacks. After the Packers paid a pretty penny for free-agent pass-rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, the odds of Matthews returning decreased significantly.
“Obviously, everybody would love to finish out their career in one place – and I’m no different,” Matthews said in December. “I would love to stay here but it has to make sense. That’s the part of free agency, with a new coaching staff, you’ve got to see the fit. There’s a worth that you feel about yourself. Everything has to come together. If that’s the case, I’d love to be a Packer for several more years.”