On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers unrestricted free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery thankfully left Charlotte without signing a contract with the Carolina Panthers and now will reportedly decide over the course of the next few days where he will play in 2014.
Being as this will likely be Cotchery’s last contract, it’s good that he’s decided to sleep first before making a final decision. In addition, he’ll have to weigh out the differences in money, playing time and whether or not he’ll have a chance to win a championship wherever he decides to play.
As good as the Panthers were last season, their receiving core is now all gone as of last week. Should Cotchery decide he wants to play in Carolina next season, there’s a good chance he will be surrounded by a lot of very young and inexperienced receivers. Any that might be signed between now an the start of the season, will be third or fourth tier free agents just like he was and all will be playing in their first season in a new offense.
The Steelers are certainly not a lock to win the AFC North in 2014 after having back to back 8-8 seasons, but with roughly 90% of the offense returning, they figure to at least be able to compete once again in the division. Despite everything that went wrong in 2013, they were one wide kick away from making the playoffs.
During his first 10 years in the league, Cotchery has never made it to a Super Bowl. The closest he’s come is two losses in the AFC Championship Game as a member of the New York Jets. Strangely enough, the Steelers were one of the two teams that prevented him from playing in the big game.
While we don’t know how much the Panthers have offered Cotchery, at least he’s taken that offer back to the Steelers. While they might not be able to match it, perhaps they can come close. Cotchery has it good with the Steelers and regardless of who they draft in May, he is certain to get plenty of playing time in 2014. Depending on the progress Markus Wheaton makes during the offseason, there’s even an outside shot he opens the season as the starter.
He has a lot to think about.