Coming into this season, Jerricho Cotchery was somewhat of an “afterthought” at the wide receiver position for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though he performed solidly when he was called upon during his first two seasons with the franchise, Cotchery spent the 2011 and 2012 campaigns playing fourth and fifth-fiddle (32 catches, 442 yards, two touchdowns) to guys like Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Heath Miller.
Although Wallace left this past spring and Miller sustained a gruesome knee injury towards the end of last season, many expected that rookie Markus Wheaton would make the leap over Cotchery on the depth chart during the veteran’s contract year.
To his credit however, Cotchery has stepped up immensely this fall and definitely made his case to earn another contract with the cap-strapped Steelers.
While many have focused on the success of Brown and Sanders this fall, Cotchery has emerged as a wonderfully reliable third wide receiver for Pittsburgh in 2013. With Wheaton shelved for much of this year due to a pinky injury and surgery, the former North Carolina State pass-catcher has all but wrestled away that role from the rookie.
Through the first nine games, Cocthery has almost matched his catches total during his first two seasons with the team (31), has surpassed his receiving yards total (455), is leading the Steelers with six touchdown receptions, and ranks second among pass-catchers with 27 of those catches coming for first downs.
While Cotchery might not be as explosive or electrifying as Pittsburgh’s other receivers, his skills as a route-runner, sure-handedness, and ability to block have made him a valuable piece of Pittsburgh’s offense this fall. Although Sanders is likely to receive a bigger contract offer on the open market due to his age, upside, and explosiveness, Cotchery could be a “bargain signing” once again for a team in need of a veteran presence within their wide receiving corps.
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