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The ‘beautiful, chaotic mess’ that brought Randall Cobb’s family back to Green Bay – Green Bay Packers Blog



GREEN BAY, Wis. — How can something be such a windfall and such a calamity all at once?

Randall and Aiyda Cobb know the answer.

It happened in July, when their dream of returning to Green Bay — Randall’s to play for the Packers again and Aiyda’s to be reunited with their best friends — had come true.

Improbably so.

So improbable that in October 2020 they sold their house in Green Bay, one they held on to for more than 18 months after Randall left the Packers as a free agent and signed with the Cowboys in 2019. When they sold it, Randall was well into his first season with the Texans.

“We held on to it just at the off chance that there might have been the possibility after the year in Dallas to come back,” Randall said. “But that didn’t happen, obviously, so then we sold it after I had signed with Houston.”

There’s the story of how Cobb returned to Green Bay thanks to a move orchestrated by quarterback Aaron Rodgers seemingly as a condition of his return for a 17th season. Rodgers wanted his dependable slot receiver back, and that could prove crucial Thursday night when the Packers (6-1) — who could be without three of their top receivers — face the Cardinals (7-0) in Arizona (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox).

And then there’s the story of what happened after the trade went down.

“It was a beautiful, chaotic mess,” Aiyda said.

‘We’re on the move again’

Cobb spent the 2019 season with the Cowboys on a one-year, $5 million deal. He then signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Texans in 2020.

“Now there may have been some television on or something and he shushed me a few times when it was too much info, but yeah, I wanted to get him up to speed as quickly as possible …”

Aaron Rodgers, on helping ex-roommate
Randall Cobb learn the playbook

Tired of living half the season in Randall’s football city and the other half jumping around the country — from his native Tennessee, where they will eventually settle after his NFL career; to Los Angeles, where he worked out; to Washington, D.C., where Aiyda’s law firm is located — they finally decided on a permanent (or at least as permanent as you can get in the NFL) home.

“When I signed with Houston, we were like, ‘OK, we’ve got three years — two guaranteed — we’re for sure going to be there for two years,’” Randall said. “So we decided to sell everything else and go to Houston and make that home for at least the next two years.”

They bought a house that was featured in Architectural Digest.

“After all the moves we’ve had in the past three or four years, I’d say we’re experts at moving,” Randall said. “That’s one of the reasons why we were wanting to be settled in Houston. After everything had happened, we were tired of doing the six months here and six months there. So we said, ‘Let’s go to Houston, we’ll stay there year-round until we make one last move to Tennessee.’”

As good as life was off the field, it wasn’t ideal on it.

In 10 games last season, he caught 38 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns — not great numbers by his standards — and missed the final six games of the season because of a toe injury. Then came a major rebuild with a coaching change and the uncertain status of quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“Even though it wasn’t the most desirable situation in terms of what the organization was going through with all the changes, it was the first home we stayed in all year,” said Aiyda, who continued to practice law remotely on a part-time basis. “And we finally got rid of two storage units.”

Familial stability lasted barely more than a year.

Cobb left Houston two hours after the trade to Green Bay went down on July 28, with only the clothes on his back and what he could fit into two small bags.

He would worry about the rest later.

But he was worried about Aiyda and their sons right away.

“She was in full rental mode, trying to find us a place here in town,” Randall said.

The goal was to get the rest of the family to Green Bay in time for the Packers’ annual Family Night, a practice at Lambeau Field followed by a fireworks show. That was on Aug. 7, three days before their older son, Caspian, turned 3.

“I was trying to just pick up the pieces on our end and figure out the move,” said Aiyda, a patent attorney who represents generic pharmaceutical companies. “I was in the middle of three very big cases, and I had to call my boss and say, ‘Listen, we’re on the move again, I’m so sorry. This is very unexpected but so exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’”

Rooming with Rodgers

In the meantime, Randall moved into Rodgers’ house in the village of Hobart, just west of Green Bay. In between watching Olympic events on TV, Rodgers got him caught up on the changes to the offense under coach Matt LaFleur.

Cobb never played for LaFleur, who was hired by the Packers two months before Cobb signed with the Cowboys.

“Now there may have been some television on or something and he shushed me a few times when it was too much info, but yeah, I wanted to get him up to speed as quickly as possible, and translate,” Rodgers said.

Said Cobb: “You know how he is, the way his brain works. Mine doesn’t quite work that way, so I had to be like, ‘OK, this is enough, I’m gonna get this from my coaches, OK? Because you’re just going too fast right now.’”

More than the football, Cobb enjoyed catching up.

“We probably hung out more in that time than in the past three years,” he said.

Rodgers joked that, “It was a good time ’til Aiyda came up, and the fun was over.”

‘Everyone loves a storybook ending, right?’

They made it in time for Family Night, although rain washed out the fireworks, and they celebrated Caspian’s birthday on Aug. 10 back in the city where he was born. Their younger son, Cade, who was born in Dallas, will turn 2 in January.

“The boys have had a hard time transitioning from house to house,” Aiyda said. “Then we had the terrible rental situation; we’re on our second rental home since we’ve been back here, but we’re just so thankful to be back that you just roll with the punches.”

Randall’s memorable quote at his introductory news conference said it all: “I’ve seen the other side, and I’m excited to be back here, and I’m excited, I’m smiling. It’s funny, my teammates said you act like you just got out of prison, and I said, well, you know … I’m very, very excited to be here.”

His best game since his return to Green Bay came in the Packers’ Week 4 win over the Steelers. He caught five passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. Cobb has stayed healthy, played in every game and has 14 catches for 179 yards with two touchdowns.

Who knows what will happen after the season?

Randall and Aiyda certainly don’t. But they’re settled — for now — and back in their happy place with their friends. They hang out whenever possible with Rodgers, who is Cade’s godfather; with Davante Adams and his wife, Devanne; and with David Bakhtiari and his fiancée Frankie.

Some believe this could be the year the Packers return to the Super Bowl for the first time since Feb. 6, 2011, which was two and a half months before Cobb was drafted.

“Just to be reunited with these friends, and then to be able to have a run at the Super Bowl … it just feels like all the chips are going to fall in the right places,” Aiyda said. “Everyone loves a storybook ending, right?”

Even if nobody likes moving.

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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield taking break from ‘all social media for foreseeable future’



CLEVELAND — As he recovers from shoulder surgery, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to rest his thumbs as well.

Mayfield said he’s going to take a break from “all social media for the foreseeable future.”

Ironically, the polarizing QB went on his Instagram page Wednesday to announce his hiatus from tweeting and posting.

“Gotta do what’s best to focus on me, my family and loved ones,” Mayfield wrote. “Appreciate all the support. Time to get right.”

Mayfield concluded his message by also including a contact for anyone making business or marketing inquiries.

Mayfield recently concluded a dreadful, injury-filled fourth season with the Browns, who were among the NFL’s most disappointing teams. Cleveland went 8-9, missed the playoffs and dealt with drama, much of it involving Mayfield.

Late in the season, Mayfield went on Twitter to dispel a story about issues between him and coach Kevin Stefanski. He called the report “clickbait” and added that “many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts.”

Mayfield’s wife, Emily, also used her Twitter platform to claim he received death threats. Mayfield downplayed those and described his attackers and critics on social media as “keyboard warriors.”

The 26-year-old Mayfield injured his left, non-throwing shoulder in Week 2 while trying to make a tackle and struggled all season. He recently underwent surgery in Los Angeles for a torn labrum and is expected to need more than four months to recover.

The team said he should begin light throwing in April.

Following the season, both Stefanski and Browns general manager Andrew Berry publicly supported Mayfield by saying they believe he will bounce back next season as their starter. However, it’s likely the team will at least explore other options at quarterback during this offseason.

Mayfield is under contract next season for $18.9 million after the team exercised his fifth-year option.

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Baltimore Ravens targeting Michigan Wolverines’ Mike Macdonald to be new DC



The defensive coordinator who keyed Michigan‘s dramatic turnaround in 2021 is on the cusp of heading back to the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens have targeted Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, a former Ravens assistant, to be John Harbaugh’s next defensive coordinator, sources told ESPN.

A deal is expected to be finalized in the upcoming days, according to sources. Macdonald has been replaced on the road recruiting by a graduate assistant coach, Dylan Roney, in preparation for his departure.

The Detroit Free Press first reported that the Ravens were targeting Macdonald.

This comes after Macdonald stabilized a defense that keyed a one-year turnaround for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, as the Wolverines went from 2-4 in 2020 to the College Football Playoff and a 12-2 record this past season.

Michigan’s scoring defense under Macdonald improved from No. 95 in 2020 with 34.5 points per game to No. 8 with 17.4 ppg. Michigan went on to beat Ohio State for the first time since 2011 and win the Big Ten for the first time since 2004.

Macdonald’s hire at Michigan proved to be one of the most impactful in all of college football last season. His schemes helped eliminate Michigan’s propensity to give up big plays under former defensive coordinator Don Brown. Under Macdonald, the Wolverines yielded 100 yards less per game in 2021, an average of 330.8 after giving up 434.3 the prior season.

Macdonald also helped launch the Heisman candidacy of defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who finished as a finalist for the award after finishing with 14 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Macdonald, 34, would become the youngest defensive coordinator in the Ravens’ 26-year history. Before leaving for Michigan last year, Macdonald spent seven years in Baltimore (2014-20), joining the Ravens in 2014 as an intern. He was Baltimore’s inside linebackers coach for three seasons (2018-20) and was considered the heir apparent for the Ravens defensive coordinator position before leaving for Michigan.

The Ravens fired Don “Wink” Martindale on Friday after the sides were unable to agree on a contract extension through 2023, a source said. Under Martindale, the Baltimore defense ranked in the top 10 in three of four seasons.

Macdonald would take over a Ravens defense that finished No. 25 in the NFL last season. That was Baltimore’s worst defensive ranking since it was 25th in 1997.

In 2018, Macdonald interviewed for the Ravens defensive coordinator position that eventually went to Martindale. Now, four years later, it appears Macdonald will get his chance to step into that role.

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New York Giants won’t trade for Deshaun Watson, seek to ‘build an offense around’ Daniel Jones



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants don’t appear likely to make major changes at quarterback in 2022, and they definitely won’t be in the market for Deshaun Watson.

“We’re not trading for Deshaun Watson,” Giants co-owner John Mara said Wednesday after introducing Joe Schoen as the team’s new general manager. “There are so many reasons why we wouldn’t do that. Cap-wise, we couldn’t afford [the acquisition], but more importantly, with the allegations that are out there right now, that is just not the right fit for us.”

Daniel Jones has been New York’s starting quarterback for the past three seasons but has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play since being drafted No. 6 overall in 2019.

Watson wants to be traded from the Houston Texans but didn’t play this past season while facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

Schoen said Watson wasn’t even a topic he addressed during the interview process, almost as if he viewed not having interest in Watson as common sense.

Watson has a no-trade clause in the deal he signed with Houston in September 2020 and is set to make $35 million in base salary next season.

“Where we are salary-cap-wise and the pending legal issues, I don’t know how you can go down that road right now,” Schoen said.

The Giants are currently projected to be about $5 million over the salary cap next season and still have Jones on his rookie contract for at least another year.

Schoen and a new head coach who is expected to be hired by early next week will have to decide whether to exercise Jones’ fifth-year option for 2023. The Giants have until May before making that decision.

In the meantime, it appears the Giants are committed to moving forward with Jones, the No. 6 overall draft pick in 2019. Jones threw 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 11 starts this past year before missing the final six weeks with a neck injury.

Jones is expected to be medically cleared in plenty of time for the 2022 season, and Schoen still sees enough potential to have him part of the Giants’ plans.

“The kid has physical ability. He’s got arm strength, he’s athletic, he can run,” Schoen said. “I’m really excited to work with Daniel.

“Again, when the new staff gets in here, we’ll build an offense around Daniel to accentuate what he does best.”

There are reasons for the Giants to build around the 24-year-old Jones, who has flashed potential despite playing with an insufficient supporting cast.

The Giants were 28th in the NFL in pass block win rate this season at 53.6%. Their starting running back, tight end and top four wide receivers all missed at least two games as they finished with the 31st-ranked offense.

The Giants organization still seems to believe in their starting quarterback for most of the past three seasons.

“We do feel Daniel can play,” Mara said. “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up since he’s been here. We keep changing coaches, keep changing coordinators, keep changing offensive line coaches. I take a lot of responsibility for that. But let’s bring in the right group of coaches now and give him some continuity and try to rebuild the offensive line and then be able to make an intelligent evaluation of whether he can be the franchise quarterback or not.

“I have a lot of hope in Daniel. I know how badly he wants it. I know how the players feel about him. We are certainly not giving up on him by any stretch of the imagination.”

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