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Can Donte Moncrief become the latest version of Jerricho Cotchery for the Steelers?

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Replacing Antonio Brown won’t be easy, but will the Steelers get some of the vacated production from Donte Moncrief?

Pittsburgh Steelers v New England Patriots Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to find a way to replace Antonio Brown’s production in the 2019 season. Anyone who thinks the team will just be able to plug a new receiver(s) in that position and not miss a beat is fooling themselves. It will need to be a group effort for the Steelers, and the newest wide receiver/tight end group has big shoes to fill.

Can JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer, Eli Rogers and others be able to make up for the lost production? Yardage will likely be divided among the group, including Vance McDonald, but where will the touchdowns come from? Many are pointing to free agent acquisition Donte Moncrief as a potential target for Ben Roethlisberger when it matters most.

Looking at Moncrief’s history, he has never been one to rack up the statistics, then again he hasn’t really ever had an elite quarterback throwing him passes. His best season, in regards to yardage, was in 2015 when he tallied 733 yards. But his highest touchdown reception total was in 2016 when he snagged 7 touchdown catches.

Not exactly inspiring statistics, but I wonder if Moncrief might be able to be the Steelers’ next version of Jerricho Cotchery.

Cotchery was drafted by the New York Jets in 2004, and put up mediocre numbers until he logged 1,130 yards in 2007. But he was never a touchdown machine for gang green. While in New York he never caught more than 5 touchdown passes (2008) in a season, but when he came to Pittsburgh things changed.

After two seasons where he struggled to find his place, Cotchery became a red-zone machine and notched 10 touchdown passes in his third, and final, season in Pittsburgh (2013). He turned those 10 touchdowns into a lucrative contract with the Carolina Panthers, where he lasted just two seasons before leaving football altogether.

The kicker here, and the hope for Moncrief in 2019, is Cotchery’s yards receiving in that 2013 season. Sure, his touchdown receptions were off the charts, but he only caught 602 yards that season. While Moncrief might not be the main person to fill Antonio Brown’s production, if he can become a primary target in the red-zone, even if he doesn’t lead the team in yards receiving, it will go a long way to helping fill the production left by Brown.

When I think back to when the Steelers acquired Cotchery, there were similarities between what fans were saying then, and what they are saying now when referring to Moncrief. Both played with mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks most of the time, had at least one decent season and hopefully finds a spot in the Steelers’ offense.

Moncrief’s 6’2” 216 lbs. frame will be a tremendous red-zone target, and if he is able to set a career high in touchdowns, and in the process mirror Cotchery’s 2013 season in Pittsburgh, the acquisition should be viewed as an A+ by the Steelers’ brass, and the offensive coaching staff for putting him in the best chance to succeed.