Despite the Pittsburgh Steelers resting their offensive starters for their final regular season game, Sammie Coates didn’t see a snap in the entire game.
The second-year wide-receiver was assumed to be the Steelers’ second choice target after Antonio Brown when Heath Miller retired, and Martavis Bryant was suspended.
But it hasn’t worked out like that. Injuries and drops have been a feature for Coates’ season, so much so that Eli Rogers, DeMarcus Ayers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Cobi Hamilton were getting snaps over him against the Browns.
There were some fans, and pundits, who were questioning whether Coates will even make the roster next season when Bryant comes back:
Will Coates be on the Steelers roster next year? Of course he will.
It’s very easy to remember that Coates did start the season off really well, earning Roethlisberger’s trust. He led the NFL in yards per catch, and burned Darrelle Revis for a memorable TD.
But for all the positives, there were negatives. He also lead the NFL in drop rate, dropping 25% of his targets.
Steelers WR Sammie Coates in 2016: Leads WRs with 20.7 yards per catch (minimum 20 targets), and in drop rate (dropped 25% of targets)
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) December 23, 2016
Then again, it’s very easy to see why he would. Injuries are the biggest reason that Coates underwhelmed this season. He’s been injured for the majority of the year.
Coates has been suffering from finger injuries, after which is when most of his drops started happening. It lead to a drop in snaps, and Coates is reported to be considering getting surgery on his fingers in the off season (link). His latest hamstring injury hasn’t helped him get on the field. That is the biggest reason that Coates didn’t play against the Browns.
It must be remembered, that this is essentially Coates’ first year on the field in the NFL. He came into these season with more catches in the post-season (two) than in the regular season (one).
Coates is still due for the third-year receiver leap, and being in the Steelers’ system will help him develop even further. Never mind that he also has two years left on a very team friendly deal. His cap hit will only be $773k next year. Markus Wheaton and Cobi Hamilton are both out of contract at the end of the season, and the former won’t be back.
It’s arguable that Coates will get back next season. It’s also arguable that he’s the Steelers’ best like-for-like replacement for Martavis Bryant. He is bigger and faster than any other receiver that is currently on the active roster. Remember, there’s no guarantee that Bryant will be back.
If the Steelers draft another receiver, that doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Coates’ time in Pittsburgh. If anything, that could be more of a signal to Bryant that he doesn’t have too many more chances left, even any.
Time is still on Coates’ side, and he should show Pittsburgh that he’s worth it.