When the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery prior to the 2012 NFL draft, they not only signed a proven veteran that is capable of serving as second, third or fourth wide receiver on the depth chart, they also signed a player that could help manage money, the Steelers young money wide receiver crew that is.
The last manager of the young money crew, that consist of Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, was Hines Ward and he did a masterful job of laying a solid investment foundation for the young trio of receivers. Ward was of course released this offseason and has since retired, but his money managing torch will now likely be carried on by the soon to be 30 year old Cotchery.
Cotchery understands the need for a veteran presence in the lockerroom and following the 2011 season he was asked about whether or not the young receivers in particular still needed a veteran presence around during an interview. Cotchery replied, “I think they are ready to carry the load on their own, but you always need a veteran presence in your room. That should be the case across the league. I think that any time you take that veteran presence out of the room, it kind of takes a hit a little bit, even with the talent that you have. So however everything plays out, I don\’t know how it\’s going to play out, those guys are ready to carry the load, but you definitely need a veteran presence.”
Cotchery had the luxury of being around all of last season to see how exactly things ran in the Steeler organization, and you can clearly tell in the interviews that he has given, that he understands and embraces the Steeler way of doing things. He was able to blend in last year without stepping on the toes of the veteran Ward and will now get the chance to emerge as one of the team leaders moving forward and a key contributor on offense in addition.
Wallace and Brown had tremendous success last season as both topped the 1,100 yard receiving mark. The duo has emerged as one of the most potent in the league right now and Sanders has also shown he has immense talent as well when he has been able to get on the field. All three are certainly headed in the right direction and Cotchery can certainly help make sure that direction keeps pointing in the same way that it has up until now.
Wallace, the eldest of the young money bunch, could miss most of the OTA sessions as he and the Steelers continue to hopefully hammer out a long term deal by the start of training camp, but that shouldn\’t serve as too big of a distraction. The fourth year receiver out of Mississippi is just doing what he believes he needs to do where his own personal money is concerned and you can\’t really fault him for that. Brown and Sanders on the other hand both should be present all summer long as they each get ready for their third season in the league. Both have shown nothing but poise during their first two seasons and should only need a nudge every now and again in the season ahead.
The Steelers money at wide receiver has been invested well over the last several years in the form of draft picks and it has certainly paid its share of dividends thus far. The young money crew just needs to be managed ever so slightly now without Ward around and Cotchery seems like the perfect fit for the job. The Steelers couldn\’t have invested their own money in a better money manager in my opinion.
The young money crew all have nicknames. Wallace is “Fast Money”, Brown is “Quick Money” and Sanders is “Easy Money”. Ward was even christened “Old Money” by the trio. The best nickname for Cotchery moving forward? How about “Money Clip”?