Speak Out: Redskins Say Goodbye to Cooley
The all-time leader in receptions for a Washington tight end gets cut.
UPDATE: Statements from Cooley, Shanahan.
Chris Cooley, the longtime and popular tight end for the Washington Redskins, has been released, the team announced today. Cooley has been with the Redskins since winning a spot on the team via third-round draft pick in 2004 (81st overall).
During his time in Washington, Cooley posted 428 receptions for 4,703 yards and 33 receiving touchdowns. He was the team’s longest-tenured player on the roster. Cooley lives in Leesburg and has an art gallery in the historic downtown area. Cooley remained among the top players sought by fans during Fan Appreciation Day this year at Redskins Park.
Last season, Cooley took over as the Redskins’ all-time leader in receptions by a tight end, surpassing Redskins legend Jerry Smith (421). Cooley’s 428 receptions rank No. 19 all-time by a tight end, just nine catches shy of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow and one reception ahead of Mike Ditka and Dallas Clark, according to a press release from the team.
In addition, Cooley stands in the top 10 in team history amongst all players in receptions (fifth), receiving yards (ninth) and receiving touchdowns (ninth). He holds four of the top five single-season reception totals by a tight end in team history, including recording at least 70 catches in 2005, 2008 and 2010.
Cooley and Coach Mike Shanahan released the following statements through the team today:
“This will be brief. This Washington Redskins are releasing me today. Today, for the time being, will be my last day as a Washington Redskin.
“It’s been awesome. I’ve been very, very fortunate to play for a franchise that has embraced me and for a fan base that embraced me the way that they have. This organization has changed my life, in every way and for the better. I appreciate it. I’ve loved every minute of playing here. It’s been a good ride. It’s been a pleasure.
“I guess for me, I’ll take some time and decide what I want to do moving forward. I have every belief that I can play football. I have every belief that I can be not only a productive player, but a starter in this league. I’m very confident in my abilities to continue to play the game. It would be a tough decision for me to put on another jersey. It’s something that I really never had to imagine, so for now, I’ll take some time and make sure what I do in the future is exactly what I want to do.
“Again, it’s been a pleasure to be a part of this team. I’m so excited for the group of guys and coaches that are here this year. I think that there’s a lot in store for the Redskins. I think that the future is awesome. I can’t tell you how much I think of this staff and the players on this team. I’m thrilled for what they can accomplish and I wish everyone here the best. There are really no hard feelings for me. I’ve had good talks with Bruce Allen. He’s been great. I talked to all the coaches and it’s OK with me that they’re moving in the direction they’re moving. Since Bruce and Mike [Shanahan] have been here, I’ve trusted everything they’ve done and everything that they want to do. Even though I’m not a part of that today, I still do believe in what they’re doing.
“I want to thank all you guys. Our media has been so good to me. I appreciate everything… I appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I guess, finally, I just again want to say thank you to our fans. It’s been great. Thank you.”
“We know how much Chris has meant to this organization, as well as this community – both on and off the football field. Since I’ve come here, he’s the guy that I would lean on quite often with his expertise of the organization, as well as the people involved. I’ve had many talks with him that have really helped me with the insight of our football team and our players. Chris wants an opportunity to, at least my thoughts, he wants to be a starter in the National Football League if he does play. I told him that Fred [Davis] was going to be our starter. There were obviously no guarantees, but if he wanted to be a starter, I would give him every opportunity to seek that opportunity out. That’s what we’re doing at this time – giving him an opportunity to see if there is a chance for him to be a starter on another team in the National Football League. I had many conversations with him over the past year, just general talks, sometimes a little bit more specific than others. In essence, he’s going to get an opportunity to check if there is that option to be a starter on another football team.”
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