Steelers Free Agent Focus: Can Pittsburgh Keep Jerricho Cotchery?

As it was in during the 2013 off season, wide receiver will be a focal point of the Pittsburgh Steelers activity in free agency, and Jerricho Cotchery figures into the mix.

Capsule Profile of Jerricho Cotchery with the Steelers

Plaxico Burress was the headline wide receiver associated with the Steelers when the 2011 NFL Lockout ended. Burress did indeed dine with Mike Tomlin in Latrobe, but ultimately signed with the New York Jets.

Cotchery’s tenure in Pittsburgh started slowly, but by the middle of the season he was working his way into the line up an by the time the playoffs arrived it was Cotchery, and not Young Money, that came down with the game tying touchdown in the wild Wild Card game vs. Denver. Cotchery took on the role as the team’s 4th wide receiver in 2012 and did a good job of coming down with clutch catches.

  • But it was 2013 that Cotchery really found his niche. 

Cotchery simply scored touchdowns, becoming Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target in the Red Zone. He finished the year with 10 touchdowns, and receiving totals that dwarfed his 2011 and 2012 efforts combined.

The Case for Keeping Cotchery

The case for keeping Cotchery is apparent. He adds a veteran presence to a young secondary and has a knack for getting open at the right place in the right time. And while he will be 32 by season’s start, he’s shown no sign of slowing down.

The Case for Letting Cotchery Walk

There are grumblings that the Steelers will draft a tall wide receiver in the first or second round of the NFL draft. That combined with the projected emergence of Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye and Cotchery could get caught up into a numbers game as even at a bargain basement contract, Cotcherey could end up costing the Steelers more than those three younger players together.

Curtain’s Call on Cotchery

Cotchery’s case will be an interesting one. Jerricho Cotchery has been on record saying he wants to stay a Steeler. There’s every reason for the Steelers to want to bring him back.

Emmanuel Sanders is almost certainly gone. Markus Wheaton is unproven, as is Derek Moye. While Antonio Brown will remain the team’s number one receiver, he needs a viable number two playing opposite him. The Steelers want that person to be Wheaton. But if Wheaton is not ready, then they’ll need a veteran.

  • The Steelers want Cotchery back and Cotchery wants to be a Steeler. When that happens a deal is usually only a formality. 

Yet the Steelers would do wise to move quickly. Other NFL teams will no doubt note Cotchery’s 2013 production, and could be inclined to open the check book. Should that happen, all bets are off as the Steelers don’t do bidding wars.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2014 Free Agent Focus.

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