Nov 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Jericho Cotchery (89) runs for a touchdown past Detroit Lions safety Don Carey (32) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (31) during the second half at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won the game, 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

What Are the Steelers Options to Replace Cotchery?


 

Jerricho Cotchery no doubt played a large role in the Steelers offense last season.  Which is why his loss to the Panthers will hurt.  Bad.  Real Bad.  Not only did Cotchery have one of the best seasons of his career, but he was also Big Ben’s safety blanket.  He could always be trusted to deliver in the clutch.  In fact to many members of Steelers Nation, including me, Cotchery should have been the number 2 priority this offseason, behind only Jason Worilds.  It’s going to be tough not having him on the field in black and gold.  The fact that Cotchery should have been a priority for the Steelers FO this offseason, and maybe he was, doesn’t change the fact that the Panthers gave him a five year deal worth $3.5 million this year.  Although I think $3.5 million is only a little bit to high of a price for his first year, there was no way the Steelers would have offered him a five year deal.  He will be 32 before training camp starts and will be 37 by the time his contract expires.  Cotchery also had family in the Charlotte area and went to NC State.  The Steelers just couldn’t compete.

Now that Cotchery is completely out of the picture it is time to focus on finding his replacement.  There are two directions the Steelers could go when looking for his replacement.  Free agency or the draft.  The free agent market has been picked mostly dry at the wide receiver  position so I will focus mostly on draft options here.  But one player the Steelers brass could target on the open market is Kenny Britt.  Britt’s off the field

Jan 1, 2014; Tampa, Fl, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Odell Beckham (3) against Iowa Hawkeyes during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

issues are no secret, but if any team can get him to focus on football it’s the Steelers.  Britt will likely come cheap because of his flaws off the field, but could pay huge dividends.  He has undeniably had Pro Bowl talent ever since coming out of Rutgers, but he has never been able to put it together on the field.  If the Steelers coaches could find a way to get the most out of him he could be a huge steal.  A one year prove it deal worth somewhere between $2.5 and $3 million could be a reasonable price.  He could form a dangerous tandem with AB.

Now onto the more likely, and probably the more effective, method to replace JC.  The draft.  This years wide receiver class is incredibly deep, second only to the cornerback class.  There are options in the first and second round who could immediately come in and perform close to the ability of Cotchery.  The first name that comes to mind among Steelers followers and NFL draft followers is Mike Evans, but he will almost certainly be gone by the Steelers pick.  So then the attention turns to the third best receiver in the class, Odell Beckham Jr.  This would be the best case scenario for Big Ben, outside of getting Evans or Watkins.  Beckham is an incredibly talented receiver who could be better than Cotchery immediately and eventually become a stud.  He has an outstanding catch radius for his 5’11″ frame and is extremely versatile.  He is a bigger and more physical version of Antonio Brown.  Plus he can be a return man.  The next prospect that comes to mind for me is Davante Adams.  He would likely be available as a second round pick and will definitely be worth that pick.  His only major flaw is the offense he played in at Fresno State.  He was asked to mostly catch short passes and run after the catch.  The Steelers, however, use their receivers in a very similar way.  Adams could be an immediate fit in Pittsburgh, providing huge help for the offense.

No matter which way they elect to replace Cotchery, it is a must this offseason.  Cotchery was a HUGE part of the offense and will be missed a lot.  But is the Steelers FO plays it’s cards the right way, they could end up with an even better player.

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Tags: Davante Adams Jericho Cotchery Kenny Britt Odell Beckham Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Milliken Steeler

    Another option and can be had in the 4th or 5th rounds. Jeff Janis. 6’3″ 220lbs and ran a 4.4 forty. He combined 200 catches, 3000 yards and 30 TD’s his last two seasons of college.

    • Anthony Chiado

      Janis could be a steal that late because of his raw tools, but he struggles with drops. He has stone hands. He would also need some time to develop, which guys like Beckham and Adams wouldn’t need. He could be really good down the road though

      • Milliken Steeler

        Where did you hear that. I have looked at all available film on him and coaches etc said he had great hands.

        • Anthony Chiado

          At the Senior Bowl he was constantly dropping passes thrown his way

          • Milliken Steeler

            His QB’s were sacked all day long. He only missed one ball. There was a screen that was knocked down by Dee Ford on its way to Janis and the other was a wild pass by Boyd that was over thrown by ten yards.

            I’m telling you, whoever gets this kid in the fourth or fifth round is goig to have a future stud.

          • Anthony Chiado

            I was talking about Senior Bowl practice, not the game. But I agree, if he can develop softer hands he’ll be good if not great

  • bk

    There is a huge drop off at WR after Evans… i don’t see one worth the 15th pick… I’m guessing they end up taking a CB like Dennard there and seeing who is left in Rd 2 like Matthews or waiting even later on Norwood, Saunders, Bryant, Street or even taking 2 of them…
    I can see it going that way!
    1- Dennard CB
    2- Buchannan S
    4- Bryant WR
    4- (Comp) Hurst LT
    5 -Gilmore TE
    5- (Comp) Thomas RB/WR
    6 – Carreathers NT
    7- Morris LB

    • Dom DiTolla

      If the FO’s got the stones to pull off a risky gambit, they could trade back into the mid-late-20′s, pick up an extra (3rd), and take someone like Benjamin if he’s available. Even a TE like Amaro or Seferian-Jenkins could be in play between 25-32.

      Of course, if Dennard or Gilbert is sitting at #15, I hope they’d take either one. With the depth at CB, or lack thereof, LeBeau would likely have no choice to insert them in sub-packages. Plus, Gilbert’s KO return ability would be a welcome change over watching the likes of Gary Russell, Najeh Davenport and Jonathan Dwyer returning kicks over the last half decade.

    • Anthony Chiado

      I love the Carrethers pick. I hate the Dennard and Bucannon picks though. Dennard is way to physical down field and I believe he will turn out to be the new Chad Scott. As for Bucannon, there is absolutely no need to take a safety this early, if at all, because of the Mike Mitchell signing. Polumalu, Mitchell, Will Allen, Sharknado, and Robert Allen are all under contract. Bucannon wouldn’t see a second of playing time his entire rookie contract. It would be a wasted pick.

  • Dom DiTolla

    I’ve seen quite a bit of negativity directed towards Beckham lately, and I cannot understand why. This team loves smurf WRs, and Beckham would fill an enormous void as receiver and special teams contributor. Unlike rookie who rot under LeBeau, drafting someone like the former Tiger would pay instant dividends on the field.

    While I’d rather see them target taller WRs (and athletic TEs) who can cause matchup issues (in the red zone in particular) this year, taking Beckham in round one to help the offense and special teams to put points on the board would be far more logical than selecting a two-down nose tackle or linebackers who’ll ride the pine for much of their rookie deals unless injuries strike in round one.

    • Anthony Chiado

      I would like to see them taking a big receiver as well. The reason I have Beckham here instead of a big receiver is because his catch radius is HUGE for his size.

      • Dom DiTolla

        Exactly. Shame is that they’ll likely try to upgrade their defense with non-contributors before they even look at upgrading their enormous holes on offense.