If you viewed the signing of Jerricho Cotchery yesterday as just another typical Pittsburgh Steelers’ free agent signing you wouldn’t be alone. As it turns out, developments later in the day could suddenly make this signing one of the larger ones in recent Steelers’ free agent signings.
Not long after it was announced that Cotchery had signed a two-year deal, third year receiver Mike Wallace apparently has made it clear that he has no intentions of signing the tender offer by the Steelers and will sit out the entire season if necessary while he tries to get a lucrative, long-term deal.
Apprently Wallace does not recognize who he is dealing with nor does his agent Bus Cook. If that name sounds familiar just think ‘Brett Favre.’ The Rooney family and Steelers’ front office clearly have the upper hand here. Wallace must play at least six games in order for the season to count towards Wallace’s hopes for unrestricted free agency in 2013. The past also dictates that the Rooney’s will only negotiate when they want to negotiate and if this thing goes well into the season Wallace might as well plan some vacations because he’ll have plenty of free time.
Let’s move back to Cotchery… If Wallace does indeed make one of the biggest contractual blunders in history by sitting out, Cotchery suddenly goes from ‘seasoned, wily veteran slot receiver’ to a guy that must perform at an extremely high level in the two spot. (Antonio Brown would no doubt take Wallace’s one position.)
Imagine for a second that that Cotchery, who had minor flirtations with the Chiefs, Rams and Jets before re-signing with the Steelers, actually did sign somewhere else. The Steelers would have gone from being relatively deep and high-powered at the receiver position to being nearly unrecognizable. You’d have Brown and… Wes Lyons?
There is however, a pretty big difference in my opinion between Cotchery at the two spot versus him at the three spot. He isn’t in the same zip code as Wallace in terms of speed and therefore he couldn’t take the coverage with him as much as Wallace does. This of course opens up things for Brown and tight end Heath Miller. Cotchery is a solid route-runner and has very reliable hands, but most defenses would have a #2 cornerback capable of hanging with him.
My feeling is that cooler heads will ultimately prevail and Wallace will be back in action by the time training camp rolls around this summer. If it turns out I’m wrong, the signing of Jerricho Cotchery could end up being one of the most important free agent signings in recent memory.