Ravens contract with WR Steve Smith boosts market for Jerricho Cotchery

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens indirectly hindered the Steelers' hopes of signing WR Jerricho Cotchery to a low-dollar deal. Despite being old enough to run for president, Baltimore gave Smith a three-year deal with a $3.5 million signing bonus Friday.

It's unclear whether the Baltimore Ravens realized wide receiver Steve Smith will be old enough to run for the presidency this season - making his $11 million 3-year deal ($3.5 million signing bonus) with Baltimore a bit confusing.

His production last season in Carolina sharply declined, grabbing 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns - the lowest numbers of any 15-plus game season for Smith since he was a rookie in 2001.

Free agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery probably had mixed emotions about the deal. On one hand, he has to be thrilled, considering his production (46-602-10) dwarfs Smith's on a per-target basis and he's three years younger. On the other, he took the landing spot of at least one team apparently desperate to bring in wide receivers.

Regardless of how Cotchery feels about it, there's no doubt his agent noticed it, and likely will use it as the basis of his client's next contract.

The Steelers have reportedly been hoping to retain Cotchery, but allowed the veteran to test the market. He's been with the Steelers since 2011, and his 2013 statistics nearly tripled his totals as a Steeler. Cotchery became a weapon in the red zone this year, but perhaps the return of a fully healthy Heath Miller (a red zone machine pre-injury in 2012) and an entire draft still to come lessen's Cotchery's value within the offense.

Whether Smith's deal can be fairly used as a comparable is debatable - Ted Ginn was considerably  more productive than Smith on a per-catch basis, and he got a 3-year, $9.75 million contract with Arizona. He had 556 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 36 catches in the same Panthers offense.

Both of these deals suggest there is a market for the range of statistics he has but it gets a little murkier without the having the weight of Smith name nor having Ginn's special teams contributory value. Still, Cotchery's value as a veteran slot receiver who showed he can be plenty effective in the red zone will land him a deal likely in that range.

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