Today the Steelers apparently signed Jerricho Cotchery to a two-year deal. This is good news for the Steelers, who without Hines, have Mike Wallace as the most experienced receiver on the roster. Cotchery had some key catches in a few games last season and definitely made a mark. While his stats are light, he was used specifically when Sanders and Ward were out.
Speaking of Wallace, there are rumors that he will hold out for a larger contract. I said this already, but holding out would be a really dumb move for Wallace. Interest in him as a free agent is already pretty slim, so holding out and not playing won’t increase the money. Playing hard and having a kick butt season on the other hand, that will drive the demand.
I get Kevin Colbert on this one. I do. The business of football is never pretty, but this one makes total sense.
The variables in this situation are simple:
- IF Wallace plays and kicks butt, he will get money. From somewhere.
- If Emmanuel Sanders plays and kicks butt and stays healthy, he will get money.
- IF Antonio Brown plays and does what he did last year, he will get money.
Wallace has had decent seasons. More than 1,000 yards every year other than his rookie season (which he still had 39 receptions for 756 yards). He would definitely be missed, but I believe he will play in 2012 and he’ll be wearing black and gold. Regardless of money, most players want to also win. That limits the teams that make sense for him. And are those teams even interested? Doesn’t seem so.
Let’s take a look at Santonio Holmes whose role Wallace stepped into. While his leaving the Steelers was a little bit different (e.g. he had no choice) the Jets were likely rulers of the free world of football at the time. Today, they have two bad quarterbacks and Tone has no stats because there’s no one to throw the ball. (and yes, I do recognize the irony of said bad quarterback – one of them anyway – beating my team by throwing the ball. Trust me, you can play that game 100 more times and it doesn’t end that way, but I digress).
Antonio Brown. He’s certainly played lights out football and works hard. You can’t even begin to question his work ethic. He’s on it. Last year he had 69 receptions for more than 1000 yards. I don’t see him slowing down at all, just getting better.
The key for Emmanuel Sanders is staying healthy. In two seasons, he’s been injured each one. He had 22 receptions for 288 yards last year but didn’t play in all the games because of injury. Same with his rookie year. Beating injury is a big deal and it is the difference maker. I think he’s got talent and can contribute, but it really is about staying healthy. I know that he’s stayed in Pittsburgh to train this year and that’s probably going to be helpful to him in many ways. I expect him to have a big year and while he may have to now compete with Cotchery for the starting #3 receiver, I think he’s got the talent to get there. It’s all about him working to get his body conditioned following injury. The lockout probably hurt E88 more than others, primarily because he was coming off surgery following the Super Bowl and had only one season under his belt and couldn’t put the work in that everyone else could during the offseason. Look for E to have a completely different year. I believe it.
Overall, the 2012 draft is deep in receivers, my guess is the Steelers pick one up in the 3rd round and maybe 1-2 more in the later rounds where they have the comp picks. Consider it insurance in case of injuries…and don’t forget. The Steelers are good at developing undrafted players. It will happen.