Per the usual, the Steelers were not very active in signing outside free agents this year. They normally concentrate on their own free agents and add an inexpensive player here or there for depth. Today they agreed to terms with former Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and it could end up being a steal if he is fully recovered from his offseason back surgery. Cotchery fits the mold of a player much like Hines Ward is, as he can line up both outside and inside and is very good at finding soft spots in the secondary and move the chains.
Over the last 3 regular seasons Cotchery has caught 169 passes with 113 of them good for 1st downs as was thrown at 282 times. He has averaged 12.5 yards per catch over that time span and has 27 receptions of 20 yards or better during those same three regular seasons. He has been targeted 31 times in the red zone over the past 3 years and caught 15 balls with 6 of them being touchdowns.
I have listed below the Football Outsiders DVOA and DYAR numbers from the last 3 seasons for Cotchery along with his Pro Football Reference AV numbers and Pro Football Focus rating scores. 2009 was certainly a good season for him and he did it with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez under center for the Jets. His 2010 scores are noticeable less and as FO theorizes it could be because of the groin and back problems that he had. Cotchery reportedly had that fixed this offseason and it could indeed make a difference in his game.
Click each header link in the table below to see the full stats of Cotchery from each of the sites I mentioned.
|Year||FO DYAR||FO DVOA||PFR AV||PFF R|
Cotchery is an average blocker and a good route runner. He should have no problems picking up the Steelers offense as he is deemed a smart receiver. He should be considered an upgrade over Antwaan Randle El and he can also return punts and kicks if needed. His signing will add veteran leadership to a mostly inexperienced receiver group and the Steelers do not have to worry about rushing back Emmanuel Sanders now if his foot is not 100% healed.
It is unknown how much the Steelers had to pay Cotchery, but I bet it is under $2 million for this season. If he can get on the same page quickly with Ben Roethlisberger and show he is no longer hampered by his back, this could end up being a huge steal for the Steelers. As the season goes on, Cotchery should be able to spell Ward on a few plays to spare wear and tear on him and help mentor both Sanders and Antonio Brown in addition. He also will fit perfectly in 3-wide and 4-wide sets.
Props to Kevin Colbert for this under-the-radar, free agent signing.