Cotchery was one of the internal FAs many, including myself, hoped the Steelers would re-sign. They could not and it is a big blow to some extent, however there is no need to lose sleep over it. I like how the Steelers didn't get fooled by his stat sheet and offer him more money than what he is worth. Not to trash Cotchery of course, because he truly had a fantastic year for us and I am sure it is one he is going to remember when he looks back on his career. His 10 TDs is the most any Steelers receiver had since Mike Wallace's 10 in 2010.
Here is how you replace the 10 TDs that he accounted for. For starters, no running back whose name was not Le Veon Bell last year scored a rushing touchdown for us and the addition of LeGarette Blount should easily be able to account for anywhere from 3-5 TDs or possibly even more. Secondly, the Steelers still have Heath Miller, who is one season removed from a Pro Bowl season that included 8 TDs. This is not to imply that he will score 8 TDs again, but with the way Todd Haley likes to use tight ends and the recovery from the surgery he has made, Heath Miller will easily be good for 4-6 touchdowns next year, if not more (which there is a very good possibility of him achieving) So between Blount and Miller the Steelers should have 7-11 touchdowns. No one receiver has to have 10, you can easily divide the 10 TDs up between different players and they don't even have to be the same type of TD, receiving or rushing counts because after all a TD is a TD no matter who or where it comes from.
As for Emmanuel Sanders meager numbers last year, Markus Wheaton may very well be able to match those himself. I remeber Santonio Holmes having a career year in 2009 eclipsing 1200 receiving yards and 5 TDs one year removed from Super Bowl MVP/Hero and then was traded the following off season and a person named Mike Wallace was supposed to replace his production. Not a single person thought he'd be able to and with the suspension of Roethlisberger, many people predicted a 7-9 season with no playoffs. Well the Steelers responded by going 12-4 and Mike Wallace set a career high in TDs (10) and yards (1260) and led the AFC in YPC at 21.0, which were all better numbers than Holmes has ever had in his entire career.
The same goes for Wheaton, there is no doubt in my mind he can replace Sanders production from last year. Yes, I understand he only caught 8 passes his rookie year, but now he has a chance to start and I expect him to take advantage of that. The only stat he may not eclipse is the TDs which were 6, but the duo of him, Moore and whatever receiver the Steelers take in the draft should be able to account for 6 TDs.
Here is the TDs broken down by position, last year on offense the Steelers had 28 Passing TDs and 9 rushing touchdowns which is 36 total from the offense
Here are my projections
Wheaton/Moore/Draft Pick- 6-8 (if 3 guys cant combine for at least 6 TDs than thats pathetic)
Miller 4-6 (or more)
Bell 7-9 rushing
Blount 3-5 rushing
Ben- probably 1 rushing TD
TDs from random guys like Spaeth, Johnson, Moye 2-3
There you go, that is anywhere from 30-40 TDs on offense alone next year. I don't believe those numbers should be that hard to ascertain next year. Those are all reasonable amounts from every player I have listed, plus we had 4 TDs from Defense/Special Teams last year. The loss of Cotchery is a big one, but it's not one to lose sleep over. Miller and Blount should come close to 10 TDs between the 2 of them and the combo of Wheaton/Moore/Draf Pick should account for at least 6