Randall Cobb

NFL rumors: WR Randall Cobb agrees to sign with Cowboys

NFL rumors: WR Randall Cobb agrees to sign with Cowboys

Another potential Patriots wide receiver target is off the board.

Former Packers wideout Randall Cobb has agreed to sign with the Cowboys, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.

Cobb's deal is for one year, $5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Last year in Green Bay, Cobb dealt with a hamstring injury and only appeared in nine games. The 28-year-old tallied 38 receptions for 383 yards and two touchdowns.

Cobb appeared to be a solid fit for a Patriots team that currently lacks depth at the receiver position, but New England will have to look elsewhere.

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Full Nelson? A look at wide receiver options remaining for Patriots after first wave of free agency

Full Nelson? A look at wide receiver options remaining for Patriots after first wave of free agency

The Patriots haven't landed a go-to receiver in free agency yet. They added Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris last week. They re-signed Phillip Dorsett. Maybe they're done. Maybe not. Maybe they'd rather execute a trade or dip into the draft at this position. 

There are still opportunities for the team to pick up a free-agent pass-catcher you've heard of before, though.

None of the receivers remaining may be at the same level talent-wise as Golden Tate, Adam Humphries, Jamison Crowder or Cole Beasley. But there are a few who may provide Bill Belichick's receiver room another level of depth. Below we lay out some of the bigger names available, their ages, and a stat that might indicate how they could provide the Patriots some value. All stats are courtesy of Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.

Randall Cobb, 28, 87.9 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018
(Update: Cobb has reportedly signed a one-year deal with Dallas)
Cobb has dealt with injuries in recent seasons, but he understands leverage and knows how to operate among the safeties and linebackers who occupy the middle of the field. He's also accustomed to working with a demanding quarterback, which might make a potential transition to New England a little smoother than it would be for others. Cobb likely won't command as much as other slots have this offseason considering he played in just nine games last season. Spotrac has his market value estimated at two years and about $8 million per year. Cobb will be 29 when the 2019 season begins.

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Jordy Nelson, 33, 100.9 rating when targeted in 2018
Nelson makes sense on a few different fronts, despite the fact he'd be among the oldest players on the Patriots roster. Like Cobb, he understands what it's like to play with a meticulous quarterback. Like Cobb, he has some slot experience, though not nearly as much. Last season, just over a third of his snaps (34.3) were run from the inside. That versatility, though, would suit Nelson in New England. Nelson's next team might also be intrigued by his production in a below-average offense. His 100.9 rating when targeted placed him ahead of Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Evans and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Signing Nelson would not count against New England's compensatory-pick formula since he was released by Oakland. He'll be 34 when the season begins.

Jermaine Kearse, 29, 1.79 yards per slot route run in 2017
The former Seahawks and Jets wideout is two years removed from a career year in which he had 65 grabs on 102 targets for 810 yards and five touchdowns. His 1.79 yards per route run from the slot that season put him ahead of Doug Baldwin, Jarvis Landry, Tyler Locket, Emmanuel Sanders and Crowder. Can he still hit that level? Kearse's pace slowed significantly last year, as he caught 37 passes for 371 yards with rookie Sam Darnold behind center in New York. In five career games against the Patriots, Kearse has 20 catches for 275 yards, including a 45-yard effort for Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. He played 77.5 percent of his snaps in the slot in 2018.

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Robby Anderson, 25, 16.5 average air yards per target in 2018
Anderson (6-3, 190) doesn't fit the profile of the types of receivers the Patriots have been after. He's not immune to slot work, but he saw just under 24 percent of his snaps come from the inside last season. He's more of a classic deep threat, as his 16.5 average air yards per target -- third in the league, per Next Gen Stats -- would indicate. The Patriots could benefit from that type of "X" receiver presence, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon's availability for next season. Anderson is a restricted free agent and has been given a second-round tender so not only would the Patriots need to give Anderson a contract, but they'd also have to relinquish a second-rounder. That might be a price to steep to pay, especially for someone who is just over a year removed from a high-profile arrest. Anderson will be 26 when the season begins. 

Pierre Garcon, 32, No. 19 receiver by PFF grade in 2017
This would be a lightning-in-a-bottle signing if it ever came to be. Garcon will be 33 when the 2019 season begins. He's played eight games in each of the last two seasons and 809 snaps total. He's had lingering knee issues, and he had to have arthroscopic knee surgery in December. In 2017, before his season was cut short, he hit a 1.79 yards per route run mark, placing him just ahead of then-Patriots wideout Brandin Cooks (1.78). If there's any chance he could get back to where he was before getting injured that season, he'd give the Patriots a boundary presence should Gordon be unavailable. 

Michael Crabtree, 31, 11.2 yards per catch in 2018
Hard to know where Crabtree's game is at given the situation he found himself in last year. He graded out as one of the worst receivers in the league among regulars, according to PFF, but when he caught passes, they usually resulted in chunks of yardage. That's saying something considering Baltimore's offense. His 13.2 percent of snaps in the slot last season won't put him on many radars for those looking for quick-hitting options, and there's not much about his recent past that screams he's deserving of a shot in New England. He did "squash" his beef with Aqib Talib, though, reportedly. At a go-kart track. So there's that.

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Slots getting paid: Which remaining free-agent receivers make sense for Patriots?

Slots getting paid: Which remaining free-agent receivers make sense for Patriots?

The moves came quickly on the first day of the legal tampering period. Danny Amendola signed a deal with the Detroit Lions. Jamison Crowder agreed to terms with the New York Jets. Adam Humphries, reportedly pursued by the Patriots, ended up coming to terms on a deal with the Tennessee Titans.

Just like that, some of the best slot-receiver options on the free-agent market were off the board. 

The Patriots could certainly be in the market for an interior weapon in the passing game -- someone who might allow Julian Edelman to play more on the outside and avoid the punishment of playing between the numbers on a snap-to-snap basis -- but who's available?

There are a variety of receivers available in free agency, including boundary players like Demaryius Thomas, Pierre Garcon, Donte Moncrief and John Brown. And the Patriots could use a variety of receivers to help fill out their depth chart around Edelman. But let's look specifically at some of the names who could end up helping the Patriots in the slot . . . 

Golden Tate, 30, 70.2 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018 

Tate came into free agency as the biggest name available. He remains that way through one day of legal tampering. Perhaps sensing his market wasn't where he wanted it to be, tweeted a Pro Football Focus graphic Monday that highlighted his ability to create yards after the catch. Though he's headed into his age 31 season, Tate still has the ability to play both outside and inside. He also has experience as a punt-returner, which could free Edelman from those responsibilities. One would think that given the deals issued to Crowder ($9.5 million annually on average) and Humphries ($9 million), that Tate would fall into that range as well. Tate is older than those players, though, so might teams be looking to offer him something that would split the difference between those salaries and the one Amendola will receive ($4.5 million) from the Lions? Spotrac.com doesn't think so. Based on its calculations, Tate could land a three-year deal worth about $10.2 million annually. Tate indicated he'd like to catch passes from Tom Brady earlier this offseason.

Randall Cobb, 28, 87.9 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018 

Cobb has dealt with injuries in recent seasons, but he understands leverage and knows how to operate among the safeties and linebackers who occupy the middle of the field. He's also accustomed to working with a demanding quarterback, which might make a potential transition to New England a little smoother than it would be for others. Cobb likely won't command as much as Tate considering he played in just nine games last season, but Spotrac has his market value estimated at two years and about $8 million per year. Cobb will be 29 when the 2019 season begins.

*Cole Beasley, 29, 88.3 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018

Only three players in the NFL ran more routes from the slot than Beasley did last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Beasley has similar per-game numbers when compared to Cobb (10.3 yards per catch, 4.1 catches per game, 42.0 yards per game), but he's been more durable of late. While Cobb has missed 11 games the last three years, Beasley has missed one game since the start of 2014. Would he see a contract offer in a range similar to the one Spotrac projected for Cobb? Beasley will be 30 when the 2019 season begins.

*UPDATE: Beasley is headed to Buffalo on a four-year deal.

Jermaine Kearse, 29, 77.5 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018

The former Seahawks and Jets wideout is two years removed from a career year in which he had 65 grabs on 102 targets for 810 yards and five touchdowns. Kearse's pace slowed significantly last year, as he caught 37 passes for 371 yards with rookie Sam Darnold under center in New York. In five career games against the Patriots, Kearse has 20 catches for 275 yards, including a 45-yard effort for Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX.

*Tyrell Williams, 27, 40.7 percent of snaps in the slot in 2018

Williams won't be classified as a slot receiver by anyone, but he has the ability to play inside and was used there relatively frequently by the Chargers last season. Though Williams is more of an outside-the-numbers threat, if it's versatility the Patriots are seeking then he could be worth an offer. According to Spotrac, Williams is looking like one of the most valuable receivers remaining in free agency, and he could be looking at a three-year deal for $9.6 million. Williams caught 41 passes last year for 653 yards and five scores. He reeled in five catches for 94 yards in last year's Divisional Round game against the Patriots. 

UPDATE: Williams is headed to Oakland on a four-year deal.

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