Chris Cooley re-signed with the Redskins on Monday morning after passing a physical, the veteran tight end said by phone.
It’s a cool thing for a fan favorite to return for a little bonus time with the club, and if Cooley can contribute in the aftermath of Fred Davis’ unfortunate injury, the feel-good story would feel even better.
“This is the only place I wanted to play,” he said. “I’m really, really glad I didn’t go anywhere else. I get a chance to play now.”
Cooley, 30, said he has been working out; mostly cardio exercise and not heavy weight lifting.
“I’m in real good shape,” he said. “I ran hard today.”
He did not know details about how the Redskins plan to use him.
“Right now,” he said, “it’s just about fitting and doing what I can do.”
It’s wise to keep expectations for Cooley reasonable because coach Mike Shanahan cut him in August for a reason.
The Redskins saved $3.8 million in salary cap space when they released him, but they had the money to keep him. Although Shanahan and his offensive assistants praised Cooley’s physical condition as he worked back from last year’s left knee surgery, Cooley did not impact the passing game in the preseason.
Not all teams, however, believed Cooley’s physical ability or performance were issues. He turned down offers from multiple teams that approached him about being their starting tight end. He wasn’t keen on playing for another organization besides the Redskins at this point in his career.
It will be interesting to see how many opportunities Cooley gets because coaches like the other tight ends on the roster, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul.
Paulsen has delivered several key blocks this season — the latest being one that helped Santana Moss score on a 26-yard screen against the Giants on Sunday — and he has contributed as a receiver, as well. Paulsen has good hands catching the ball, and the Redskins have exploited teams’ tendency to discard him as a tight end who serves predominantly as a run blocker. Consistency as a run blocker has been his biggest fight.
Paul’s transition to tight end from receiver has not been smooth. The Redskins expected him to create mismatches with his speed, but that hasn’t materialized in the form of receptions and yards. He is constantly trying to hone his blocking technique against bigger defenders. Against the Giants on Sunday, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sacked quarterback Robert Griffin III after Paul fell short of Pierre-Paul when trying to cut block him on the back side.
So there is room for Cooley to contribute. He might not be the punishing after-the-catch runner he used to be, but knows the offense, can catch the ball and was Washington’s best blocking tight end for a long time.
If Shanahan is open to relying on him, even in small doses, Cooley is capable of contributing. Just remember the Redskins didn’t re-sign the 2007 version.