Last season the Jets lacked a veteran leader, a player who demands respect from teammates and leads by example.
It’s no coincidence that when the Jets handed Jerricho Cotchery his pink slip before the start of the 2011 season, New York’s camaraderie deteriorated beyond comprehension.
Cotchery requested his release in late August of last year with the Jets in pursuit of free agent wide receiver Derrick Mason, who was ultimately traded to Houston mid-way through the season.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft, Cotchery spent his first seven seasons with the Green and White before signing a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011. his playing time diminished in Pittsburgh as he recorded career lows in yards (236), receptions (37) and touchdowns (2).
Cotchery has expressed a willingness to make a second go-around with Gang Green and the Jets front office has not been shy in their desire to right a wrong and bring the veteran wide out back into the fold. Whether Cotchery can fit in with the Jets personnel grouping remains to be seen.
New York is searching for a starting receiver to complement Santonio Holmes, but Cotchery’s strength is playing out of the slot position. Second year wide out Jeremy Kerley has emerged as a viable punt returner and slot receiver while becoming Sanchez’s No. 3 target behind Holmes and Plaxico Burress last season.
With the Jets interested in bringing back former Jets Cotchery and Braylon Edwards, it seems general manager Mike Tannenbaum is turning back the clock and attempting to rekindle the fire that led New York to back-to-back AFC title appearances.
While Cotchery’s role with the 2012 Jets remains undefined, the receiver’s old school work ethic and positive impact on teammates could be reason enough to extend him a contract offer.
New York is harkening back to its ‘ground and pound’ style that brought the Jets to the precipice of two Super Bowl berths.
Cotchery personifies leadership, toughness and clutch play, a player who’s impact on the game is not always reflected in the box score.
With the team's continuity disrupted last season, Cotchery would be a great addition as Gang Green looks to make a resurgence in the AFC in 2012.
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland
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