The Buccaneers Should Sign Jerricho Cotchery

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (82) against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (82) against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

The Buccaneers have questionable depth at wide receiver after the top two.  Jerricho Cotchery would be an under the radar, but solid addition to the team.

In Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, the Buccaneers have one of the more dynamic wide receiver duos in the NFL.  A young quarterback like Jameis Winston needs strong weapons, and he is blessed with two of the best.  Add them to Doug Martin, and Winston is in as good of a position to succeed as any young quarterback ever has been.

But from there, where do they go?  Zach Sauers very eloquently discussed the fact that the group behind Evans and Jackson is a bit of a weakness.  They are inexperienced, and the ones that have experience simply aren’t great players.  Who could the Bucs bring in?  Roddy White was suggested by James Yarcho, which was an excellent choice.

I have a different, more under the radar name to suggest.  My choice is Jerricho Cotchery.

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First of all, Cotchery has a ton of experience.  He’s been doing this for 11 years.  If you remove Jackson and Evans, you have Louis Murphy with eight years in the league, Russell Shepard with four, and the rest have no more than two years in the league.  That’s two guys that with all due respect, aren’t much to write home about, and the rest just haven’t done it much.  They need experience on the depth chart.

Jerricho has also had experience in many different roles on a wide receiver depth chart.  During his time with the Steelers and Panthers, he has been a slot receiver/role player.  His best year in that regard came in 2013, where in a supporting role in Pittsburgh, he posted 46 receptions for 602 yards and ten touchdowns.

However, Cotchery has experience as the go-to receiver as well.  From 2006-2008, he was the leading receiver for the New York Jets, the team he spent his first seven seasons with.  During that time, he averaged 78 receptions per year.  Yes, he’s older now, 34 years old to be exact.  But he does have the experience to step up, were Jackson or Evans to go down with an injury.

Cotchery is the type of player that could always be counted on for a big catch.  For his career, he has posted 182 receptions on third down, with 144 of them good for first downs.  The best quality about Jerricho has always been his ability to run a good route, in a big spot, and make the catch.  Imagine him as a secondary option available to Jameis on a third down, in a close game, against the hated Panthers.  He could be a huge difference maker.

What’s better than experience?  Big game experience, and Cotchery has a ton of it.  For his career, he has played in 15 playoff games.  In those games, he has posted 44 receptions for 566 yards and three touchdowns.  By comparison, “V-Jax” has only been in seven games.  One of Cotchery’s best playoff performances came following the 2010 season, when the Jets upset the New England Patriots in the divisional playoffs.  That day, he posted five catches for 96 yards, including two catches on an early fourth quarter drive that put the Jets up by two scores.

When the Bucs finally return to the playoffs, wouldn’t it be nice to have a guy that has had strong experience in important games running pass routes for the young Jameis?

We have talked a lot about Jerricho’s past, but his present hasn’t been bad either.  In two years in a supporting role with the Panthers, he has averaged nearly 44 receptions per year.  He has also posted multiple receptions in each of the Panthers’ five playoff games over the past two seasons.

He clearly isn’t finished.

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Add punt return experience to the equation and Cotchery almost becomes a no-brainer.  According to Spotrac, he only was a $1.95 million cap hit in 2015.  He won’t cost much to bring him down to Tampa.  It would be worth it.  Jason Licht, make some calls.