Could Chris Cooley be on the move?

Bruce Allen said on ESPN980 this morning that he’s been on the phone with the Raiders trying to hammer out a potential trade.

The Raiders under Reggie McKenzie haven’t been strangers to the trade market.  Already, they have dealt G Bruce Campbell to the Panthers for RB Mike Goodson and Louis Murphy also to the Panthers for a conditional draft choice.  This time though, the Raiders may not be looking to get rid of dead weight.  They, instead, might be looking to add.  Which means the Redskins could be in luck.

Chris Cooley is my favorite player on the Washington Redskins.  He is the longest tenured Redskin, edging Santana Moss by a single season.  There are only FOUR!?! players on the current roster who were drafted and developed by the Redskins prior to the Shanahan era.  Chris Cooley is one of those four, along with Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo, and Kevin Barnes.

But Cooley has also been a limited player since the 2009 season.  It’s been nearly half a decade since Chris Cooley was a top ten tight end in pro football.

Cooley simply peaked early.  He was great in 2005.  In 2006, he was probably the best player on the team.  He was money again in 2007.  In 2008, his TD totals dropped, but his yards per catch went up actually.  He played for three different offenses in that timeframe.  Cooley was the best thing the Redskins had going.

Even though, numbers wise, Cooley had another top season in 2010, he hasn’t been the same player since 2009.  He’s a little bit better of a blocker now, but he lacks explosion, and his hands haven’t been as consistent as they were earlier in his career.  If Cooley can rediscover himself around the red zone, the former high school wrestling state champion can carve out a nice niche at the end of his career the same way his good friend Todd Yoder did with the Redskins.  But Cooley’s knee is going to remain problematic, and even before it got this bad, he wasn’t the same player he was in his mid-twenties.

And so if the Raiders come asking for a tight end with starting experience in the west coast offense who can be a seam option and safety blanket for Carson Palmer, the Redskins have to be willing to listen.  I thought last offseason was the Redskins last chance to get something for Chris Cooley.  Today, it appears from 30,000 feet above that they still might be able to get something for him.

It won’t be much.  We’re looking at either a projectable offensive tackle prospect such as 2011 third rounder Joe Barksdale, a veteran like Khalif Barnes (1-year, $2 million contract), or a conditional pick in the 2013 NFL draft.

But between the Redskins and the Raiders, it’s now the Redskins that sport the true “vertical” offense.  The Redskins have an offensive philosophy off the passing game that makes Chris Cooley a liability.  Cooley can still contribute off the team’s vast play action packages, but Niles Paul is much better suited as both a blocker and a receiver to attack defenses where they are weakest.  Having Cooley on the roster will help the running game find its stride, but really limits opportunities for younger players to get a chance.  That by itself is a decent trade-off, but now if a team will trade for a part that is already kind of getting in the way, you have to do it.

Lets be clear that we do not know that Bruce Allen has been discussing Chris Cooley with the Oakland Raiders.  But if you look at where the Raiders’ greatest needs lie, they need help at offensive tackle (the Redskins can’t offer that), at cornerback (the Redskins can’t offer that), and at tight end.  Sure, it’s possible that the trade is about the Redskins trying to acquire safety help from the Redskins, but I think things are clear when you read between the lines.  The Redskins don’t already know that Cooley is a lock to make the roster (on merit, he probably makes it).  The Raiders are short a tight end, and run a scheme that Cooley still fits.  The Raiders have been active traders this offseason, and the Redskins have confirmed they’ve been in talks.  

Why confirm routine trade talks unless a fan favorite is involved?  That wouldn’t make much sense.  

We’ll see soon enough. 

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