Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 Free Agents Analysis: WR Jerricho Cotchery – Unrestricted

By Matthew Marczi

Player: Jerricho Cotchery

Position: Wide Receiver

Experience: 10 Years

Free Agent Status: Unrestricted

2013 Salary Cap Hit: $1,500,000

2013 Season Breakdown: Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, at age 31, in his 10th season in the league, caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes.

I think he likes playing with Ben Roethlisberger. And I think he’d like to continue playing with Roethlisberger.

After two years in Pittsburgh of only marginal playing time and the corresponding marginal production, the departure of Mike Wallace gave the veteran Cotchery the opportunity to assume the role of slot receiver, giving him significantly more playing time, and he repaid the team tenfold for the opportunity.

As the team’s third receiver, Cotchery caught 46 passes for 602 yards and a healthy 13.1 yards per catch average—and of course the eye-popping 10 touchdown receptions, which led the team by two.

With tight end Heath Miller ailing for much of the season, the Steelers ended up funneling a lot of their typical tight end production to Cotchery, playing off how defenses chose to play them, and the strategy clearly translated quite well.

While his level of involvement seemed to fluctuate during the season, he came up with some big games for the Steelers, such as his 7-96-3 performance against New England, or the 5-103-1 that he put up against the Vikings earlier in the year.

Despite playing more no huddle, that production seemed to wane in the second half of the year. After the New England game, Cotchery registered more than three catches in a game just once in the last eight, and likewise topped 50 yards only once.

This was also the same time that Miller started to re-emerge in the passing game. On the other hand, he still had five touchdowns in the last eight games as well on just 17 receptions.

It needs to be noted that Cotchery is also an excellent run blocker, easily the best on the team since Hines Ward. But more importantly, he is also that veteran presence that Ward brought in his later years. Ask Markus Wheaton about Cotchery’s leadership. It’s a role, in his waning years, that he relishes, and it shows.

Free Agency Outlook: Even though he’s coming off a 10-touchdown season, Cotchery will be 32 by the time the 2014 season begins. Last year is also the first in the last five in which he did not miss time due to injury. He can be counted on purely as a slot receiver, and thus should not be an overly coveted asset in the free agent market.

There’s also the fact that Cotchery never had more than six touchdowns in a season prior to this year. But the most prohibitive concern for other teams should be the fact that Cotchery, after three years in Pittsburgh and finally establishing a role, isn’t looking to go anywhere. His performance this year and his chemistry with Roethlisberger may earn him a slight pay raise, but there’s no reason to suspect that Cotchery won’t be in the black and gold in 2014.

Other Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Ryan Clark – Unrestricted Free Agent
Emmanuel Sanders – Unrestricted Free Agent
Brett Keisel – Unrestricted Free Agent

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • 20Stoney

    I hope that’s right because I’d hate to see him leave. He’s steady and he has some size.

  • Jason

    He’s a keeper but only in the roll he played this season, not a #2.

  • dgh57

    Cotchery has sure hands that(most times)can help move the chains on 3td downs between the 20’s and in the redzone when it comes time to score points which is something every team needs. His veteran presence is needed to tutor these young WRs we have/will have. He likes working with Big Ben, is a good blocker, and will be cheap to resign. So lets resign this guy, already!!!

  • cencalsteeler

    I look at it this way. If they brought Buress back last year, they BETTER bring back Cotch for 14. It should be a no brainer.

  • Robert Alaniz

    I think he could be the number two even if its only for one year while watching the maturation process of another number two in waiting.

    He runs good routes, he has good hands and is a leader much like Cam. People forget Cam took Taamu under his wing in the offseason and it made a difference. Taamu went bye bye for other reasons not because fang out played him. My point is people like Cotch are invaluable.

    Listen to Sanders and then listen to Cotch. Not one time have I heard Sanders talk about believing this team could win another Superbowl in the near future and the pieces are almost in place. The situation is ideal. He truly believes that.

  • Callentown

    The reason is obvious. Cotch played the role that Heath usually plays and his stats blew up. He’s a keeper in the mold of Ward and I would bet the team will find a way to keep him in Black and Gold.

  • David Edward

    I think JCo is one that almost all of us can agree should and will be back. He’s a model NFL player who knows his job, knows how to play the game and his position, and just goes out and does what he’s asked to do. I doubt anyone would give him a “big” contract, but if someone were to…he’s earned it. That being said, I see him coming back to the Steelers for something like 2yrs/$3.8M.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    He knows how to get open in the red zone. He makes clutch 3rd down catches and he almost never drops the ball. Sign him up for 2 more years and call it a day

  • steeltown

    Sign the Man

  • Douglas Andrews

    He’s earned another 2yr contract with some pretty good production from last year even if you don’t count the 10 TD’s.

  • Brian 43

    Your forgetting the steelers are not in good cap shape and a rookie is cheaper and will play special teams I would love to have him back but he might cost to much and I would rather have that money for the defensive side of the team and I have more faith in the offensive side of the ball

  • Brendon Glad

    I really hope we are able to re-sign him without too much stress. I like the way he plays. While i’d love to see he and Emmanuel Sanders both back, if it’s a “one or the other” scenario, Cotchery is my preferred choice.
    I remember when we first got him was right around when “Bill Belichick: A Football Life” came out. And i remember one sequence where the bulk of the stress of his gameplanning week involved Cotchery (as a jet). Even though years have passed, that little sequence from that movie always lingers in the back of my brain.
    He of course signed Sanders too. So both guys clearly have someone’s respect who likes to throw it around a bit.

  • Virdin Barzey

    He’s all in for the Steelers. I like the guy a lot and he produces. Epitome of a team guy. Sign him.