Rex Ryan said Jerricho Cotchery’s release came at the wide receiver’s request. Not even Ryan himself or Mark Sanchez could convince him to stay.
The request shed some light on the Jets' curious decision to release Cotchery, who was set to earn a base salary of $1.8 million. Neither Ryan or Sanchez would go into detail as to why Cotchery made the request to be traded or released but both were disappointed by his departure.
“The bad news is that Jerricho Cotchery is no longer a Jet,” Ryan said in his post-practice press conference. “That’s tough. There’s no doubt. He was a guy that was a tremendous teammate and a guy I had a great deal of respect for.
Anything we needed the guy did for us. It was tough. J-Co he asked for a trade or to be released and that’s what happened but it was tough. You hate to see great people leave your building and we’ve had some...I wish him well and I’m sure he’s going to have many more years left playing.
Sanchez, who said he had a conversation with Cotchery earlier in the week in hopes of changing his mind, loses a familiar target in Cotchery, whom he called someone he looks up to and one of the best teammates he ever had.
“He’s the ultimate teammate, he’s the ultimate competitor and that’s why it hurts to see him leave,” Sanchez said. "He’s someone you can depend on and whoever gets him is lucky."
Cotchery’s release came with Derrick Mason, who was released by the Ravens and spent four seasons with Ryan in Baltimore, in the training facility but Ryan stated that was not the reason for Cotchery’s release. Cotchery admitted earlier in the day that if Mason was to pass his physical it would likely lead to his release.
“Derrick is a tremendous football player and, like I mentioned to you today, a great competitor,” Ryan said. “I’d like to have Derrick, that’s for sure.”
The addition of Mason would leave Sanchez with two veteran receivers to incorporate into the offense, Plaxico Burress being the other. Sanchez said that rookie wide receiver Jeremy Kerley - whom he called a “baller” - will have an opportunity to step up in Cotchery’s absence. Sanchez also said that Santonio Holmes will become the veteran leader of the group, in hopes of filling the void left by Cotchery.
“I can’t tell you how many times he encouraged me when I wasn’t playing well, build me up even when I’m playing well, he does it all,” Sanchez added of Cotchery. “The catches he’s made, the touchdowns he’s had, they are all momentum swinger type plays. You miss that in a player like that. But at the same time we need to play with the guys we got and move forward towards the Super Bowl.”