Jerricho Cotchery Says His Goodbyes to the Jets

If Derrick Mason joins the Jets, Jerricho Cotchery is leaving

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    After seven seasons, Cotchery's career with the Jets appears to have crash landed.

    The Jets have already lost two wide receivers from last year's team and it looks like they're ready to make it three.

    Jerricho Cotchery said Thursday that he is prepared to get his walking papers from the team as soon as Derrick Mason passes a physical and signs with the team as a free agent. The longtime Raven was released when the lockout lifted last week despite catching 61 passes for 802 yards last year, likely because he is 37 years old. 

    "Everyone wants that dream scenario, where you can play on one team your whole career, but it doesn't happen too often ... I love being a Jet," Cotchery said. "But this happens, man. That's life. I'm ready to move on."

    Cotchery had a rough 2010 season as he struggled with various injuries and problems holding onto passes thrown his way. He caught one huge pass against Cleveland, though, on a play that will be his lasting legacy with the Jets.

    On third-and-nine in overtime, Mark Sanchez was under heavy pressure and trying to find someone to throw to before getting sacked in his own territory. Cotchery kept moving, looking for an opening and, after Sanchez finally saw him, dove to catch the ball and keep the drive alive.

    Great on its own, the catch became legendary when replays showed that Cotchery hurt his groin early in the play and kept making moves while hopping on one leg. He tore his groin muscle on the play, but no one would argue that it wasn't worth the pain.

    That injury concerns the Jets less than the back surgery Cotchery had after the season for a problem that bothered him all year long. You have to imagine that making a move to get older at a position already up in the air thanks to the gamble on Plaxico Burress has to be based on concerns that Cotchery can't play at the same level.

    Even with the injury concern, it's interesting that the Jets are making another move has to do with wide receivers because, as it has always been since he arrived in the 2009 Draft, a big portion of their success this year relies on Mark Sanchez. He and Cotchery worked very well together -- again, see the catch vs. Cleveland -- and now he'll have to work with two new receivers in a short offseason while working to raise his game to a higher level.

    That creates a bit more risk than you'd like to see from a move involving your third receiver, especially when Mason isn't a gamebreaking player at this point in his career. Cotchery's physical condition negates some of that risk, but it will take seeing the team in action to know whether this was the wisest move.

    Ultimately, you have to trust that the people making the decisions are operating with the intention of making this Jets team as good as it can possibly be in 2011. The current decision makers have a pretty strong track record, including several other moves that sent popular veteran players packing before the consensus was that they should depart.

    That doesn't make it any easier to see a good player who produced some great memories walk away, but it does make it easier to believe that there will be other good ones to take their place.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.