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Chris Cooley would welcome return to NFL

Former Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley left the game after the 2012 season, started a broadcasting career and moved on from the NFL.

But he never officially retired -- and the desire to play never completely left. And now, after working out hard in the offseason, Cooley would welcome a chance to return.

Cooley first said as much on his radio show on ESPN 980 in recent months, saying about playing again that "I'll just say that I want to." He reiterated that stance in an interview with The Washington Post.

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

Cooley said that he's been working out hard since January, running routes at the Redskins' facility and dropping back to his playing weight of 250 pounds.

Cooley was cut before the 2012 season, but returned to the Redskins when Fred Davis was injured. Cooley did not return after the season and said at the time that he could not imagine playing for another team, fearing it would tarnish his Redskins legacy. After two years away from the game, Cooley told the Post he no longer fears this would be the case.

The colorful Cooley was one of the Redskins' most popular players from the time he joined them in 2004 as a third-round pick until he left. Cooley set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end with 429. Since leaving the game, he has been a co-host in drive time and serves as a color analyst during Redskins radio broadcasts.

"There aren't the competitive challenges and the competitive accomplishments to be achieved in [every] job, the feeling of going crazy because you've worked to achieve something," Cooley told the Post. "And if you think you only have a couple more [chances], why wouldn't you do it?"

Teams that inquired about him two years ago were told he wasn't interested. Cooley said Redskins coach Jay Gruden told him he was interested in him when he was the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive coordinator in 2013.

"I would actually just love to go run around and play," he said. "Two years ago, had I gone somewhere and it didn't work out, I would have had my feelings hurt. And now, I think it would just be fun."