Cardinals reportedly expand TE interest to Chris Cooley

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Cardinals’ search for a veteran tight end has led them to an option who hasn’t played in two seasons.

Arizona expressed interest in signing former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The idea of adding Cooley is intriguing if the two years away hasn’t set him too far back to make an impact. This is the ideal low risk/high reward situation. If Cooley isn’t performing, the Cards can cut him without losing much. If he’s back at his Pro Bowl level, Arizona has a steal.

It’s typical Steve Keim.

According to Cooley, however, he feels he can come back. He told the Washington Post for a story Tuesday “I feel [bleeping] awesome.”

“If I went to camp, I could be anybody’s third tight end, worst case,” Cooley told the Post. “I have no doubt. Any team in the NFL, I could be their third tight end. There’s not a question in my mind.”

Ideally, Arizona would need Cooley to be a first or second tight end. Heading into training camp on Aug. 1, Troy Niklas and Darren Fells are atop the Cardinals’ depth chart. But if Cooley ends up a Cardinal, his experience and receiving prowess could make him a good fit. He made $825,000 in 2012 for about half a season but earned $3.8 million in 2011.

He was a Pro Bowler for Washington in 2007 and 2008, an All-Pro in 2005 and is the Redskins career receptions leader for a tight end.

The major question surrounding Cooley is not having played the last two years. According to the Post, he’s back down to his playing weight of 250 pounds, down 15 pounds from January.

Cooley last played in Week 17 of the 2012 season for the Washington Redskins. He was cut in August of that year and re-signed in October as injuries ravaged the Redskins’ tight ends. In nine games in 2012, he had one reception for 8 yards while starting two games.

A year earlier, he played only five games after being placed on IR because of a lingering knee injury.

If he’s healthy and back in football form, Cooley can be a steal. If not, the Cardinals will have to move on quickly.