The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver that has been in the news the most this past week has of course been Hines Ward. The Steelers have yet to make a decision on Ward returning in 2012 according to Steelers GM Kevin Colbert on Monday and Colbert also added that the Steelers likely will not be able to sign any of their own free agents before March 13th because of salary cap issues. One of their unrestricted free agents that they might be hoping to resign is wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who they signed to one-year deal last August.
Cotchery was sidelined early in the season with a hamstring injury, but saw an increased roll late in the season as the role of Ward was greatly reduced. Despite playing a little over 300 snaps on offense for the Steelers in 2011, Cotchery registered just 16 regular season catches for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns. He noted in an interview after the Steelers season ended that he hoped to return to the Steelers in 2012.
On Monday Cotchery stated again that returning to the Steelers would be an "the ideal situation" according to Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger and said that in his exit meetings with the Steelers they told him that they were very pleased with him and who he was both on the field and off the field, and that they definitely wanted him back. He is currently back in New Jersey now working out, according to Vrentas, and hinted that he was hoping to sign a four or five-year deal with the Steelers.
While Cotchery would continue to be a great fit with the Steelers, it will come down to how much attention he gets early on in free agency and what his market value is. Considering he had less than 20 catches last year, that could play in the favor of the Steelers. Cotchery would also likely have to accept the role of being a number 4 receiver on the depth chart behind Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
The good thing about Cotchery right now is that he is still singing the same song about the Steelers that he did when the season ended. He seems genuinely interested in returning. It will be interesting to see if he gets attention from other teams shortly after the initial rush of the free agency period begins in March.