Redskins Need Chris Cooley More Than They Know

With all-time reception leader at the tight end position for the Washington Redskins, Chris Cooley, being courted by other teams as an unrestricted free agent, its time for the front office to come to their senses. Owner George Allen continues to put off questions about the re-signing of the fan favorite with statements such as “We’re going to see how everything plays out a little bit.” But in reality, everything he needs to see has been playing out for years. Cooley, age 30, has been in the league for 10 years and has certainly lost a step. He was released from the team last August and upon being called back mid-season in October had only one reception. But he was certainly called back for reasons beyond that. Cooley represents a stability and leadership that two of the Redskins’ three other current tight ends, Niles Paul and Logan Paulson do not. Paul only had 8 receptions in the 2012-2013 campaing, and Paulson, the named started after Fred Davis tore his achilles in October, ended the final 9 games of the season with only 308 yards. At a position dominated by players like Rob Gronkowskihaving 1,327 yard seasons, that sort of production is not acceptable.

Jan 6, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley (47) warms up before the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Fred Davis represents the best starting choice for the Redskins next season. He was re-signed March 29 to a 1-year, 3.75 million dollar contract. The money is well worth it, as last season he had 325 yards in 5 games, more than Paulson did in 9, before tearing his achilles’ heel in Week 5 against the Giants. The season before, he logged 796 yards in 12 games as well. However, Davis by himself is a very risky proposition for Washington. First, his health is still uncertain. Coach Mike Shanahan has released that Davis “has made some strides” with his injury, not the most confident assessment. Second, Davis is the sort of troublemaker that the Redskins under Shanahan have been dying to steer clear of. He was suspended for the end of the 2011-2012 season due to a failed drug test. Players unable to avoid doing recreational marijuana during the season is more reminiscent of the contentious Albert Haynesworth days than of the surging young team that just won the NFC East Division.

Cooley, a player that knows the organization, plays hard, and is constantly affirming good behavior on and off the field (case in point, the Washington Post’s recent article about Cooley reading to elementary school children), is the perfect mentor for Davis, who has the talent to be a top performer at the tight end position if he can avoid injuries and personal pitfalls. With the upcoming season sure to be a stressful one, especially once Robert Griffin III is back and the whole league guns for the Redskins, the 10-year veteran can make sure cooler heads prevail, on and off the field. And with the Redskins’ mounting history of recent injuries, an extra tight end to step in were Davis to reaggravate his heel is a necesity. His career 4,711 receiver yards isn’t so bad itself.

With the choice between Paul, Paulson, and Cooley, the last decade speaks more than anything else.

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