Former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said Thursday he thinks the team will re-sign him this season only if there is a significant development to alter its current roster, such as an injury to current starting tight end Fred Davis.
Cooley said he isn’t interested in any of the offers that he has received from other NFL teams to serve as a backup on a minimum-salary contract. He is coming to grips, he said, with the possibility that he could end up retiring if he doesn’t receive an offer to his liking this season or next offseason. And he has begun to give thought to his post-playing career options, he said, including a possible future role in the Redskins organization, perhaps as a team-affiliated broadcaster.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cooley said in a telephone interview. “I want to play here, but I don’t know if anything will happen with that.”
The Redskins released Cooley, their career leader in catches by a tight end, last month after eight seasons with the team. Redskins officials said they were leaving open the possibility of re-signing Cooley. Coach Mike Shanahan said last Friday that General Manager Bruce Allen had met with Cooley the previous day.
Cooley said Thursday his impression is that only an injury to Davis, backup tight end Niles Paul or another significant roster-changing development would open a job for him.
“Bruce and I are friends,” Cooley said. “We sat down and had a beer and we talked about golf, mostly. The way it looks to me is if something happens here, they would love to have me. If Fred gets hurt or something like that, I think I’d be the guy they sign. I think that.”
Asked what else, if anything, might lead the Redskins to want to re-sign him, Cooley said: “I’m not exactly sure what that situation would be. I don’t know if it would be Fred getting hurt or Niles Paul getting hurt or whatever. If they call me at some point this season, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s fine too. I’m not going to worry about it too much. I’m happy with what I’ve done here. If satisfied with my career. If I don’t play again, that’s how it is. I’ll go through the season and see what the offers are. I’ll go through free agency and see if there’s interest. If I’m not playing at that point, I’ll see about whether to retire or not.”
Cooley said he could envision himself, after he retires as a player, filling a position like the ones occupied by long-time Redskins radio broadcasters Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen. Huff’s schedule has been reduced this season to calling all of the team’s home games, plus two road games.
“I would love to do something like Sam and Sonny,” Cooley said. “I’m not interested in doing media. But if it’s something through the team like that, I would love to do that. That’s not a real conversation yet. I’m not retired and I can’t have that conversation before I’m retired. But it’s definitely an idea that’s been tossed out there.”
Shanahan has said that Cooley, 30, wants to find a starting job with another team. Cooley said no starting job elsewhere has presented itself.
“I’ve had offers,” he said. “I said to my agent, ‘You know what I want. And you don’t need to call me if it’s not something I want.’ I don’t have that much interest in the interest there is in me so far. If I could go somewhere and start, I’d probably do that. That’d be fun.”
The New England Patriots expressed interest, Cooley said, before signing Kellen Winslow this week.
“The Patriots called, then they signed Kellen Winslow,” Cooley said. “I played long enough and made enough money that I’m not going to play for the minimum salary. If that’s the best offer I’m going to get, then so be it…Most teams have a tight end they like.
“You look at it and you say, ‘I could play here,’ or, ‘I could play there,’ and it’s not necessarily the case,” Cooley said. “Then you have guys available on the market like Winslow, like [Jeremy] Shockey. It’s not a good market for tight ends.”
Cooley said he doesn’t feel an overwhelming need to play if an offer he considers suitable doesn’t come his way.
“Unless someone really needs me, I would just sit here,” he said. “I live here. Leesburg is home. I want to be here. I’m not just sitting around doing nothing. I’m doing a charity thing with my gallery where we’re making 100 dog bowls. That was pretty fun. I’m doing stuff I like to do. I’d like to keep doing charity stuff around here.”
Shanahan said last Friday: “Chris is such a big part of this organization. He’s been a big part of his organization. He’s looked at his options. We talked about things that could possibly happen throughout the year. But if he did go to another team, it’d have to be as a starter.”