2017 is going to be a pivotal season for Sammie Coates. After the news came out that he is starting the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) due to a minor knee surgery, the start to his year is not quite on the track he wanted it to be on. Could this bump in the road be enough to steer him off of the roster altogether?
Is Sammie Coates on the chopping block?
Coates rookie season was mainly a learning season. He caught just one regular season pass, but two receptions for 61 yards in the playoffs that season sparked the idea that the Steelers may have something in his upside. When Martavis Bryant was suspended for 2016 the idea was that Coates would be the next man up and a player who may take over the reigns. It became apparent early into the preseason that he was not ready for that role, and Eli Rogers wound up beating him out as a more reliable threat. Most of Coates 2016 was a disappointment, and it featured groin and finger injuries.
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Adding a knee injury to his list of ailments is not going to improve the Steelers skepticism of him moving forward. The team already signed Justin Hunter, who profiles similarly to Coates and Bryant. They drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster as well, and with Martavis Bryant expected to be back from suspension, the wide receiver room is much more crowded than a season ago.
With Coates on the sideline and Bryant still waiting on NFL approval to practice, the Steelers have been getting looks at Justin Hunter early in the preseason. These are important snaps that are slowly pushing him above Coates on the depth chart.
Coates only presents a $315 thousand cap hit if he is cut. His cap hit is only $151 thousand next season, and he is a free agent the season after. This team is no longer committed to Coates in any way.
He has multiple injuries, competition who may be better, and a contract that does not tie him to the team. If Coates cannot get healthy and prove his worth on the football field, there is no guarantee that he will be sticking around on the roster all season.