2017 Steelers Stock Watch – WR Sammie Coates – Stock Down

With the 2017 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certain players.

And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, have sent their stock rising, falling, or breaking even.

Player: WR Sammie Coates

Stock Value: Down

I’m not sure there is going to be much contention with this stock evaluation, but in my estimation, the value of Sammie Coates has pretty much gone nowhere but down since about six games into his second season.

Following a remarkable five-game run in which he caught nearly 20 balls for over 400 yards and two touchdowns, including six receptions of at least 40 yards, Coates suffered a couple of broken fingers that dramatically reshaped his season, derailed his playing time, and seemingly shattered his confidence.

He had an opportunity at the time to establish himself as a starting wide receiver, but after missing his window, it doesn’t seem right now that he is going to have much of a chance at all that significant playing time this year, although he will of course have ample opportunity to improve his stock over the next several months.

During the regular season, he was given three or four opportunities to receive more playing time, and he routinely failed to capitalize on his targets—which, in fairness to him, were almost consistently very deep passes, but I’ll have more on that at a later time.

Since then, the Steelers have gotten back Martavis Bryant, they signed Justin Hunter in free agency, and for the cherry on top, they drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round at his position, adding three obstacles in his path that were not there last season.

Right now, I do not believe it would even be accurate to say that he has a roster spot reserved for him, although I do think it is more likely than not that he does end up on the 53-man roster come September.

Complicating the matter is that we do not even have full clarification on whether or not Coates had offseason surgery on his hand. While he seemed to contradict the claim that he did, Bob Labriola has repeatedly over the course of the past several months alluded to a hand surgery, and I haven’t known him to have his facts wrong very often at all.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • The Chin

    So, if you had to choose, contracts aside, would you take Sammy or DHB?

  • falconsaftey43

    As a WR, I’m taking Coates. Assuming he can show his hands are better now. But if his hands are messed up, then DHB is the superior ST player and can function as a WR at least.

  • Craig M

    (Just thinking) Wonder what we could get for him on the open market, since I would venture a trade for him for maybe a Safety/ ILB/ TE/ draft pick.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    The WR competition is going to be good this year. I think there are only 3 guys who are given for the roster. After that…it is all up for grabs. The question is…do we keep 5 or 6?

  • Rocksolid20

    If his fingers aren’t healed by now they
    never will be .

  • steelburg

    I agree that Coates does not have a guaranteed roster spot. But I have heard this site report numerous times about this guys work ethic being pretty good. I’m always willing to bet on those type of guys. I think that Sammy will make the roster. I think that he won’t completely get rid of his drop issues but I think he will at least return to last year’s early season form.

  • Conserv_58

    IMO, the handwriting was on the wall regarding what the Steelers think of Coates’ future when they drafted JuJu Smith. Anyone who thought that the selection of JuJu Smith was a direct shot across Martavis Bryant’s bow are sadly misinformed and mistaken. Martavis and JuJu are different receivers. Martavis is an outside receiver that can flat out fly. JuJu Smith is not on Martavis’ level when it comes to break away speed. His strength is as a slot receiver.

    They signed Hunter as a potential insurance policy in case Martavis falls from grace, again. That goes without saying since Hunter has the same measurables as does Martavis.

    Given what Colbert has said about JuJu Smith being a 50/50 ball hawk it’s obvious, to me, that they have him in mind as Coates’ eventual replacement. Watching Coates fail miserably in the playoffs to make the potential game changing catches that he was expected to make was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Steelers.

  • Conserv_58

    It is because of Coates’ aggrivating boom or bust play that the hope is, JuJu Smith will pass him on the depth chart, sooner than later.

  • Conserv_58

    The issue of his busted fingers is not a valid or legitimate excuse for Coates’ problem with being an inconsistent and unreliable receiver. He didn’t have busted fingers in college. He ended up a third round pick because he had inconsistency and reliability problems with catching. Most draft analysts said he could have been a first round pick if it wasn’t for his being so inconsistent. In addition, Marcus Wheaton had busted up fingers and he was far more consistent than Coates ever was or is.

  • Conserv_58

    If the issue comes down to trust, consistency and reliability, DHB gets the nod over Coates because the Steelers know they can count on DHB to do his job. They don’t have trust in Coates to be as consistent and reliable as he should be.

  • Smitty 6788

    I agree as long as his fingers are good Sammie will make the roster. I think we keep. AB,MB ,JuJu, ER, SC and JH thats a nice group or Wr imo..

  • falconsaftey43

    Pretty hard to ignore the dramatic decrease in his efficiency pre and post injury though. 64% catch rate up through Jets game, 12% after that. That’s too huge of a difference to ignore, injury clearly had an effect (mental or physical). Let’s see how he looks this preseason. He’s never going to be super reliable, but if he can be that big play guy, there is a place for him IMO.

  • falconsaftey43

    I think the best you could do is likely swap him for a guy about to be cut at the end of pre-season. Like maybe to Jets for Pryor. Something like that.

    If he looks really good in preseason, I don’t see them trading or cutting him. If he’s still dropping everything, his market’s not going to be much, so low grade player swap is best I’d think you can get.

  • steeltown

    Coates better come out swinging. I liked him coming out of college, but he has an uphill battle right now. Same goes for Ayers. Even if Hunter fizzles out, Coates and Ayers will both hardly see the field, behind AB, Bryant and JuJu n Rogers.

    Their path is through special teams.

  • steelburg

    I agree with that statement. But I’m hoping that Coates can get it together and show some consistency because IMO a 3 WR set of AB, Bryant, and Coates, would be a lot more potent then having Juju in there although I think that Juju will end up being a good player for the team.

  • Michael James

    Tough question. I seriously don’t know the answer. If Coates’ fingers aren’t fine by now, it has to be DHB. But even if his fingers are good, Coates has never shown something outside that 5 game-stretch. It could simply be a fluke (like Flacco’s playoff heroics in 2013 were). DHB is a special teams demon and he has unreliable hands (just like Coates already had pre-injuy). So it’s really hard to tell.

  • Xi37

    If the Steelers cut DHB, wont he just still be sitting on the FA market in November if they need him?

  • NCSteel

    I know DHB has a rep for bad hands but can someone from the Depot find me at least 3 drops on tape from him last year ?
    I can’t remember too many but I sure can remember a whole whack of ’em from Coates.

  • Jaybird

    Looking at last years tape , I doubt any team would offer up anything for Coates. The last 14 weeks of the season for Coates , including the playoffs, were the worst I have ever seen a reciever have. I think if he was that badly hurt he should have been on the IR. I don’t understand why he was even out there?

  • cencalsteeler

    Plastic mallard.

  • Chenz33

    I’m definitely rooting for both Coates and Hunter to show something. They have the physical gifts to make this deep receiving core even more dynamic. DHB is a steady receiver and ST ace. Ayers has an AB like work ethic and hunger that I love and would hate to see on another team. It’s tough, I don’t know who I’m rooting to see on the 53-man.

  • Jaybird

    DHB is a great ST player. His value might be greater than you think. I bet he could make the Ravens’ squad . And probably contribute for them too!

  • Jaybird

    Coates has something in common with a plastic mallard- they are both decoys with no hands.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I don’t see Coates losing his roster spot whatsoever.

  • Delboka

    Man fans really turned their back in Coates. The dude played with an injury. He at least tried when we had no one besides Brown.

    Just seems like everyone is more interested in trimming the fat off the receiving core instead of viewing it as a solid group with solid backups. Injuries are bound to happen. I think having a four wr set is a better option than James.

  • pittfan

    Hopefully Sammy’s paws were the cause of his dropoff and now they are healed. Tons of upside with him. When you think about the WR core we’re in great shape when guys like Ayers, Roger, and DHB are hardly in the conversation.

  • TMP_22903

    Sammie Coates is a great athlete Sammie Coates is also a far-below-average wide receiver. I would respectfully prefer he NOT be on the field nor on the roster.

    He does not have good hands, and more generally his pass catching skills (positioning, timing, clutch factor, ball security) are poor. My personal amateur opinion is that there should not be a spot for him on this loaded roster, especially with other young receivers who have more reliability and perfectly adequate athleticism (JuJu, Rogers, Ayers).

    My preferred WR group = AB, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers, JuJu, Hey-Bey, and Ayers. No Coates. And I realize 6 WR is probably a stretch, and there might only be one spot for 88 or 15 in my projected depth chart.

    And let’s give credit where it’s due … we have perfectly adequate receiving targets in Jesse James and Xavier Grimble, and if Ladarious comes back that would give us an additional substantial weapon, too. Oh, and some other capable pass catcher named LeVeon Bell, too…

  • TMP_22903

    Hey-Bey > Coates.

  • TMP_22903

    Think for a second about Steelers players who have worn #14. Wouldn’t that list include two players filed under “he who shall not be named”…?

  • falconsaftey43

    DHB was targeted 19 times and caught 6 balls last year. Don’t know about drops, but he just wasn’t used much. I have no idea why they kept putting Coates out there when it was clear he couldn’t catch.

  • blue

    Coates is best kickoff returner on Steelers.

  • Applebite

    Meanwhile, in New Orleans….
    “Gawdddd!! Hurry up, Steelers! Cut some of them WRs so we can get a couple of ’em!”

    Meanwhile, in Baltimore…..
    “Hurry up Pittsburgh and cut ’em already! Just hang on, Joe…!”

  • Michael Conrad

    Neither . I think if Hunter shows anything he will jump them both. I see AB , MB ,Eli,JJSS.Hunter and if they keep six it will be DHB for ST’s plus he is a positive influence on players. Coats can’t track the ball he will really have to show he has improved in all areas to make the team.

  • VaDave

    Is it too much to ask our vaunted press corps to ask somebody at the Southside practice facility about Coates’ recovery, if any? Or better yet, go to on of these offseason sessions and see if he’s catching any balls first hand. From personal experience, surgery or no surgery, I have my doubts he’ll be ready for a full go at OTAs.

  • cory

    A lot of internet doctors on here today giving their professional diagnoses. It would be nice if some of them realized broken fingers will cause problems dropping the football. The same people were salivating when Sammie was on fire. Can’t the guy just heal up and prove himself before you throw him away like a piece of trash??

  • NCSteel

    It usually takes 6-8 weeks for bones to heal.
    I am not an internet doctor but I was a radiologic technologist years ago and do still remember some basic bone healing timetables. Now, I do not know for certain if there was a surgery performed or the extent of the break(s) but generally speaking, 6-8 weeks.

  • VaDave

    Thank you Cory. I agree. What most don’t understand is fractures heal relatively quickly. 4-6 weeks. Soft tissue injuries take much longer. In my case it was a year. Granted, today method’s may have shortened the healing timeframe somewhat, this was a compound fracture. You know, the kind where the bone, or bones, pokes through the skin? This was a gruesome injury for a guy that has to depend on his hands. I really don’t think he’s going to be catching balls un splinted for a while.

  • NCSteel

    Interesting, I would imagine almost all of them were deep routes so I would think there are probably several overthrows/underthrows in there but there must have been some drops too. I just can’t remember any.

  • treeher

    While DHB deserved his bad hands reputation early on, I really don’t have a problem with his performance as a Steeler. Yes, he’s had some drops, but so has everyone else.

  • Big Joe

    While time will certainly tell us what will happen, I think Hunter gets cut before Coates does

  • 2winz

    I agree, i thought he has been pretty reliable when hes out ther for us. he has a better qb than he did on his other teams and that does help with his catching when a qb puts it where you can get it

  • 2winz

    I agree, not to mention JuJu had messed up fingers and came back and had a huge game from what i read

  • 2winz

    both of you have good points.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    If I recall correctly, the opposition had already starting clueing into the fact that he was,or at least was being used solely as,a long bomb threat. To be fair to him those are low % passes. I imagine that’s all they felt he could do.Having said that,his performances after stepping on his own hand was way under the line. They pretty much had to resort to handing the ball off to him as a last resort. I don’t hold out much hope for him based on his career to date but stranger things have happened.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I would tend to agree, especially since Coates is much more likely to have a role on special teams.

  • cory

    I’m definitely not a doctor, although I should have my doctorate in
    common sense LOL. I’m tired of the authors continuing to rip on Coates
    because of a serious injury to his fingers. Then the comments section
    is just more garbage. They wouldn’t be able to type in their precious
    two cents with broken fingers and yet this guy was still playing in the
    NFL with broken fingers. How about an article explaining what this
    injury actually is, the time it takes to heal under normal circumstances
    (not continuing to practice and play in the NFL), and if there have
    been improvements. I know teams like to keep these things in house but
    quit being so negative all the time.

  • VaDave

    Dang, I view myself as one of the more positive posters on this board. LOL! Seriously, I think I understand where you are coming from. Fingers aside, the kid can play. To your point, Coates didn’t play much his rookie year, then he got his chance to show way he could do last year, and I with you on this, he was pretty stinking good. Then disaster which left him pretty much as a one handed WR. Going forward, he’s got to get healthy, if he isn’t already. We just don’t know and are being held in the dark at this point. Like you, I’m no doc, but I do have some first hand experience on the matter. Pardon the pun….

  • Doug McFee

    Reliability is the issue for me. His first 6 games last year, Coates was stellar. The kid got hurt and was never the same. Was it physical or was it mental with him? When the Steelers needed him most – in the playoffs – he did nothing! Coates was not reliable. If he can get the mental part of his game in order, there is no denying Sammy is an outside deep threat. If he does not get the mental part of his game in order, trade him and get a 3rd day pick for him. DHB will have to make the team with ST attitude and stellar play on kicks. I’m betting on DHB.

  • I also read that he had surgery to repair tendons which, if they were flexor tendons, could actually be carreer threatening.

  • I respectfully disagree regarding Sammy. I hope he proves the doubters wrong in training camp with fully recovered bones and tendons!

  • Terrible Towlie

    can Hunter return punts?

  • Conserv_58

    I can understand your sentiment, but that’s all it is because Coates has yet to show any improvement since being drafted. To further compound his frustrating lack of improvement is the fact that he’s got one of the most respected and accomplished WR coahes in the league. The drafting of JuJu Smith in the second round was definitely not a need. It was a BPA pick that I’m fully convinced the Steelers made because their patience with Coates had worn thin. It is for that reason why I think the Steelers’ see this off season/training camp as Coates’ last chance to prove that he can overcome his boom or bust label.

  • Conserv_58

    I’m sure that his crooked fingers played a part, but his infuriating inconsistency speaks more to his intestinal fortitude and ability to concentrate than physical dissabilities to me. He was inconsistent in college an he’s still inconsistent. As for his being that big play guy he was given the perfect opportunity to prove he could fill that role in the playoffs and he blew it, Big Time. His fingers weren’t the key reason why he dropped perfectly placed balls either. It was his inability to totally focus on catching the ball when he was in tight coverage. He dropped far too many balls in the playoffs that were game changers. Instead of rising to the occasion he wilted under the pressure. I swear he hears voices in his head in those moments.

  • Conserv_58

    Your last sentence echoes what I’ve said many times and it’s a valid perception that so many fans fail to understand. The fact that Coates was on the field in the first place was all the proof fans needed to realize that he had to be medically cleared by the team doctors, first before he would be allowed to play. It is for that very reason why I’ve said that I don’t buy his fingers being busted as a legitimate excuse for his abysmal playoff performances. Sammy Coates simply failed to take advantage of the golden opportunity given him to separate himself from the pack and rise to the occasion to become a trusted and reliable play maker. The brass ring was right there for Sammy to grasp and he whiffed.

    The sign of a true champion is to make the most of the opportunities given them and to see how they conduct themselves when faced with adversity.

  • Jaybird

    Dave where did you hear he had compound fractures? Becuase if he did, there would be no way he should have been back in that game , the risk of infection would be too high.

  • VaDave

    Pretty much an assumption on my part based on information given by the coaching staff. During the game in which he was injured, Tomlin provided Coates’ absence from the game was due to having his fingers stitched up. Then we were told he had broken fingers, and the latest “He has a busted hand”. My assumption is that if those finger or fingers needed stitching, and shortly after it’s announced that there are fractures involved, putting one and one together and there you have it. My other thought is if it were just a simple fracture, he more than likely would not have be splinted 8-9 weeks later. Agreed, total conjecture, and Tomlin may not have known the whole story and could have misspoke about the stitches. The Steelers aren’t exactly an open book about these sort of things.