Tomlin: 'It's just an element of free agency'


The Steelers depth at receiver took a hit early in free agency when Jerricho Cotchery signed with the Carolina Panthers, but the team rebounded fast with the signing of veteran Lance Moore one day later.

"It's just an element of free agency," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We had a position to fill. We happened to fill it with Lance. But it doesn't underscore what Jerricho did for us and my feelings about him. I wish him nothing but the best."

Tomlin likes what he sees in Moore, who played eight years with the New Orleans Saints, and can step in and fill the slot role that Cotchery held down so effectively.

"Similar to Jerricho, he's a savvy veteran that is capable of winning above the neck," said Tomlin on Tuesday from the NFL Owners' Meetings. "He can create space at break points. He's done that. He developed a significant rapport with a guy like Drew Brees over the years. Hopefully he will do the same with Ben Roethlisberger."

A key aspect Cotchery brought to the receiver group was veteran leadership, a key with a group that now includes Antonio Brown (5th year), Markus Wheaton (2nd year) and Derek Moye (2nd year) as the only others with game experience on the roster other than Moore. While the addition of Moore helps with that, Tomlin knows it's just that time of year when depth is addressed and things that appear to be issues will soon be solved.

"All positions for us at this point are incomplete," said Tomlin. "We look forward to adding quality depth to all of our positions between now and including the draft. It's just part of this time of year. We need some quality depth there, and we will fill that, whether it's through free agency or through the draft."

Tomlin will be looking for bigger things this year from Wheaton, the team's third-round draft pick last season. Wheaton was hampered by a broken pinky finger on his right hand that required surgery and forced him to miss four games in the first half of the 2013 season. He returned to the field, but another injury, this one to the middle finger on his right hand, slowed him down again.

"Like any professional, he has to stay healthy," said Tomlin. "It's tough to play wide receiver with broken fingers and so forth. I've been pleased with his approach to the game and how he works. He's an intelligent young man. He's very capable and willing. I look forward to him taking a significant step for us. I know that we need him to."

Moye is another young player who doesn't just provide depth, but his size at 6-5 could also be a weapon that the Steelers are in need of.

"He showed us a lot of things to be optimistic about, but at the same time, we understand that growth is a part of this thing and he's going to be presented with new challenges and new men to compete against," said Tomlin. "He needs to respond to it."

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