Washington Redskins’ Chris Cooley Calls it Quits

By Greg Bradshaw
Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins’ tight end Chris Cooley has decided to retire from the NFL to become a member of the organization’s radio broadcast team. In nine NFL seasons, all with the Redskins, Cooley caught 429 passes for 4,711 yards and 33 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Cooley was hampered by finger and knee injuries in 2011 that limited him to only five starts that season. That started a downward spiral from grace from which Cooley never recovered.

Tight end Fred Davis established himself  as Washington’s tight end of the future in 2011, starting 12 games and recording 59 receptions that season. The future was realized in 2012, when Davis officially became the Redskins’ starter at tight end after Cooley’s release before the start of the 2012 NFL season. Davis was lost for the season with an Achilles injury after seven games, prompting Washington to bring back Cooley to add depth at tight end.

Any discussion of Cooley reclaiming the Redskins’ starting tight end position was premature. Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan never considered Cooley to become Davis’ replacement, taking into account that he joined the team so late in the season. Shanahan chose unheralded reserves Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul to handle the Redskins’ tight end duties. While collectively not being able to match Cooley’s productivity during his prime, Paulsen and Paul proved to be adequate substitutes in Davis’ absence. Cooley‘s status as the most prolific tight end in Redskins’ history means nothing in Washington’s scheme of things. That’s because, to quote a classic Janet Jackson song, “What have you done for me lately?” The answer to that question is not enough  to warrant playing time when Cooley became healthy.

Playing time was about to become even more scarce for Cooley entering 2013. Washington selected tight end Jordan Reed in this past April’s NFL draft. Reed possesses good speed and athleticism that provides an efficient target to help quarterback Robert Griffin III in the passing game. The addition of Reed creates a logjam at tight end that leaves Cooley the odd man out of the rotation. Considering there wasn’t a market for Cooley’s services to the other 31 NFL teams, retirement was the best option for one of the most beloved players in the Redskins’ illustrious history.

Redskins’ fans can be assured that Cooley will bring excitement and expert inside analysis to the team’s radio broadcasts. I wish him well in his new endeavor.

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