The Carolina Panthers never replaced Jerricho Cotchery’s role as a slot receiver last year. So they’re bringing him back.
But not to play.
Head coach Ron Rivera on Thursday announced Cotchery has joined the Panthers coaching staff. He’ll assistant new head receivers coach Lance Taylor while Cam Turner, who was a wideout assistant the past two seasons, will now help quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.
“Here’s a guy very familiar with our guys,” Rivera said of Cotchery, “a guy that was the quiet leader in that group.”
After coming to Carolina in 2014, Cotchery and his family have settled down outside Charlotte. And with the Panthers hoping to make the slot an integral part of their offense again, Cotchery’s 12 years of experience should make him a valued voice in the receivers’ room.
“That’s one of the positions that we want to feature and highlight as we start going forward,” Rivera said, “something that will help us even more so.”
The Panthers finished 2016 with Philly Brown, Brenton Bersin and Damiere Byrd as their slot receivers with Brown accounting for 27 of that group’s 30 receptions. Brown and Bersin are now restricted free agents, and Carolina could be leaning toward allowing one or even both to go elsewhere.
Former Giants wideout Victor Cruz, who could help in the slot, visited Charlotte last month. The two sides will continue to talk as Cruz takes time to decide his next step.