Emmanuel Sanders Discussion Moves Now To Whether Or Not The Steelers Can Work Out An Extension With Him

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have made the decision to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet signed by restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders with the New England Patriots, the discussion will now move on to whether or not they will be able to work out a long-term extension with him between now and the start of the 2013 season.

As I pointed out in a post earlier in the weekend, the rules of the CBA state that Sanders 2013 base salary of $2.5 million can\’t be lowered. That means any additional money that Sanders were to receive in the form of a signing bonus would be prorated out equally over the length of the extension and added onto his base salary, which would in turn raise his 2013 cap hit.

For example, extending Sanders three additional years and giving him a $6 million signing bonus would result in his 2013 cap number being $4 million.

As they sit here right now, the Steelers have less than $750,000 worth of salary cap space to work with between now and June 2nd when the release of guard Willie Colon becomes official and frees up an additional $5 million plus in cap space after displacement takes place. Should the Steelers work out an extension with Sanders between now and then, they obviously would need to create more cap space via terminations, restructures, or other extensions.

Should the Steelers not work out an extension with Sanders between now and the start of the 2013 season, he will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Should Sanders leave via free agency next offseason, the Steelers would be in line to receive a compensatory draft pick for the 2015 draft.

  • Untitled

    I feel like he’d wait until the end of the season for an extension anyway. Hopefully they can get one after all the old cap cows are off their deals.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I feel like we made the right move getting him back

  • SteelSpine

    I don’t see much incentive for either side to work out a long term deal, at least not til right-before 1st reg season game:
    – On the Steelers end: Better for Steelers to wait to see how their draft picks WRs or cheap FAs perform in preseason games. Also better to not yet give Sanders the big deal he’ll want, because he didn’t improve last year.
    – On Sanders end: Better for him to be on open market at end of this year which will probly get much more money then Steelers would give him now. Look at the whopper deal Wallace got including that insanely-large bonus in the FA market.

    Now that he’s a Steeler again, watch the posts change from adios bum, to now great smart move re-signed future hall-of-fame’r, heheh.


    I would rather sign Cortez Allen to a deal than Sanders.

  • hergieburbur

    So, if they wait until after June, taking out 1.7m for the draft and 2m for emergencies, that would leave them about 2m to play with if they sign no other FAs. IF they used that to extend Sanders, how would that affect his displacement value, or would it not make much difference overall because of his current salary.?

  • hergieburbur

    All good points, especially the last one :). It’s not exactly true that he didn’t improve last year, but it wasn’t a big improvement. I don’t see Sanders getting anything close to Wallace money (even a lot of phins fans know they overpaid for him to try to help save their GMs job), nor do I see him expecting it. IF he has a good year, I see him looking at around 4.5 to 6 per year in a contract, more if he really breaks out.

  • moderatelysane

    Yup. Don’t throw more money at him. If he was good enough to extend, they should have already. Since he wasn’t, make him earn it. Having someone else want him doesn’t earn an extension.

  • David Edward

    Lol…I was on the side of letting him walk for the Pats pick and I shall hold to my argument that it would have been the best move in the long run. I think it was a bit of a desperation move where maybe the FO (Rooney, Colbert, and Kahn) would’ve let him go but Ben lobbied so hard for him to stay that Tomlin convinced the FO to match the deal. A lot of pressure on all sides for Sanders to perform well in 13, otherwise they will look silly on this one. They are probably gambling that they can get a good year out of him because he wants a big contract. It really doesn’t make sense for him to sign a long-term one now anyway…unless the Steelers want to overpay for him. If he does have a breakout year, he’ll get his money elsewhere. I really do see this as a “one-and-done” for him but you never know.

  • hergieburbur

    I think an extension is possible at some point, but not overly likely. And while I wanted them to keep him (if we had more depth I would have been in favor of the pick), I think there is a lot to your comments. I think When they started hearing pressure from Ben, and looking at having so many changes in the skills positions on offense, and the uncertainty of a rookie WR producing in year one, and decided a match to buy time was the best move.

  • Michael Pearce

    I would have rather signed Keenan Allen to a deal than Saunders or Cortez

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Once the draft passes and the Steelers have had a few practices with the rookies, they need to get to work on extending the young guys who are free agents next year. I’d wait to see what you have in OTAs before prioritizing who gets extended.

    At some point, they’ll need to have some veterans take pay cuts to fund this.

  • RW

    Liking this less and less with time… Could have gotten as much talent with a draft pick or two. Plus, it’s not like WR is a position that is difficult to learn in the NFL (as compared to, say, nearly every other position). Honestly don’t know why we wasted the money. Can’t sign him to a long term deal now on the semi-cheap and wont be able to next offseason. Just wish the Steelers thought with their heads and wallets and not Ben’s heart.

  • David Edward

    I’ll give a quick (well maybe not so quick) analysis of why extending Sanders may not be the best choice. Let’s say they draft a WR in round three. He will be locked up for 4 years @ probably around $2.8M. Basically, that’s what Brown was saying when he said, why pay a guy for one year when you can get one for four @ the same price? To lock up Sanders for 4 years the minimum is probably $12M…and that’s unlikely…if Sanders waits and has a big year, he may be looking at something closer to double that 4 @ $24M. Hopefully you can already see the huge differences in the cost of the draft pick vs. Sanders. If chosen wisely, the draft pick can be the starter in year two. So, over those next three years, you are saving a minimum of over $7M in total with the draft pick. If he produces about the same as Sanders would…you have a bargain…if he’s better, you have an absolute steal. Considering they were able to find both Wallace and Sanders in the 3rd (and Brown in the 6th), I think it’s reasonable to assume they can find a replacement for Sanders. Let’s say they want to shoot a bit higher and take a WR in round 2…that guy would probably be a 4 @ $4M number…still excellent value! Finally, if they went WR in 1st round, hopefully they would be picking a guy who they think can be better than Sanders. The #1 pick would still be a 4 @ $8M guy. Anyway you slice it, a draft pick who can produce adds so much more financial value than extending Sanders! Naysayers, will holler “what if the pick is a bust?”. Quite frankly, that’s always a risk you take just like Sanders can have a career ending injury. Either way, odds are Sanders will wait to become a UFA in 14 and his price will go up. Which brings us back to the “why didn’t they take the Pats pick” question…but it’s now a moot point.

  • hergieburbur

    We won’t see pay cuts this year, but with their contracts, both Ike and Troy will have to either take cuts or get cut in 14. I think Ike is slated to count around 10 mil against the cap then. No way they keep that on the books.

  • Nolrog

    Keenan Allen hasn’t been drafted yet. If they draft him, he will be signed to a deal, 3 or 4 years, so I don’t understand your argument.

  • gdeuce

    I think he meant Keenan Lewis

  • zyzak

    They have until the END of the 2013 season to sign him long term. Just what “pick” in the draft would guarantee more production at that position? The Steelers are very weak on third down picks over the years. This had nothing to do with Ben lobbying. It simply had to be done or face the fact of Burress starting at WR, something that isn’t very appealing

  • I would consider taking back the restricted tender offer to Redman since there will be some nice zone scheme rb’s available in this draft. That will essentially put their cap number back to where it was before the match right? I do like him but he has not shown he can stay healthy, is aging and to me is more of a straight ahead guy and could be had for the minimum. This additional cap space could assist in getting Manny a 3-4 year deal so we are not starting over with another WR next year.

  • Superdriller316

    I don’t think we can fill all of our holes in one years draft. Since we only dress 4 WR’s for a game, I was for letting him go. I see both sides of keeping him and letting him go. I won’t be going out buying an 88 jersey any time soon but I do hope he helps out where he can and puts up good numbers. I saw where he tweeted that he’s ready to get to playing football. So I hope this turns out to be the best decision, because if it goes south, people will be bitchin about Tomlin’s decision making skills and want him fired again.

  • Yeah but they generally stop negotiations once the season begins. I agree with you on your point about Ben/Burress though.

  • $19122620

    It will seem ridiculous for them to have matched and then not sign him to some sort of extension. If that happens we essentially lost an opportunity to land a 3rd round pick, and for what?To keep a guy for a year and one that really hasn’t made a huge impact for our offense yet.

    With that said, I am not overly opposed to the move, as long as everything works out, haha! That means, us keeping him past a year and Sanders producing at a level that justifies matching the offer and keeping him past a year.

  • Steelers32

    Well the decision was made to keep Sanders, I did not hope for this
    outcome not so much as dose he have talent…. Much more so having to do
    with watching “show me the paper” Wallace lay down last year. If
    Sanders pulls the same crap this was a HUGE mistake, hopefully the
    people who decided to keep him know he has character and pride in his

  • steeltown

    Well, we all know they’ll be drafting WR regardless.. but for now, Sanders provides more depth at the position and he also has the ability to return kicks, I doubt they want Brown returning kicks any longer. Also, Sanders will be playing his azz off for a contract next offseason, whether its with the Steelers or elsewhere… $2.5MIL is not that much, its only a bit more than a 2nd Rd tender wouldve been

  • steeltown

    I am indifferent about not only retaining him for this season, but also long term.. I dont really see them working a long term deal out before the season. BUT I think they’ll use the hell out of him this season at WR and KR and get their monies worth

    I guess I was leaning more toward another pick in the draft, but really it makes sense to keep him, even if its only for one more season. The Steelers always have the mindset that they will compete for a Championship, thats just the way they operate, so $2.5MIL (which is less than a high tender amount) is worth a player that Ben is comfortable with and a guy who has the ability to be productive at WR and in the return game.. plus he’s playing for a payday so who knows maybe he has a big year for us

  • steeltown

    I agree

  • TsarPepe

    You mean, “third round” picks…

  • steeltown

    We’ve dressed 5 WR’s more often then you think.. last season we only dressed 4 on game days because Rainey could be used at WR as well as RB and KR, so he was #5 technically

    I think we’ll see Brown, Sanders, eventual draft pick, Cotchery and Burress round out the depth chart (barring injury) ..unless Gilreath just explodes in preseason and beats out Burress

  • steeltown

    I agree with you.. I think they’re expecting another jump in production from Sanders.. and why not, with Wallace gone he should see more targets. Also, I doubt they have plans to extend him just yet.. I could be wrong though

  • TsarPepe

    There’s no such thing as “choosing wisely” in the draft. You can choose as wisely as you want, and still end up with a bust, for a whole variety of reasons that don’t have to do with how the decision was made. Most realistically, you end up with a project that will play in his 2nd year. In the meantime, you have to go with Burress or Cotchery as your #2, and you’ve made a statement that you don’t care what your franchise QB wants. Not a good place to be…

  • steeltown

    You do know Wallace and Sanders were both 3rd Rd picks, so was another guy named Hines Ward… just saying

  • r4kolb

    Can you just imagine what the fans in the stadium will be doing to Sanders if he starts dropping passes, Fumbling punts/kickoffs. It will be brutal. Really surprised at this move by the front office. Hope someone asks the question as to what they were thinking during a press conference. Average receiver at best. Hope he stays healthy. Wow what were they thinking?

  • Superdriller316

    Yeah but they didn’t use him that way, just a KR and RB. It would have been nice if they would have used Rainey as a WR but he dropped a lot of swing and flat routes. Gilreath and Moye need to take the next step forward. Time will tell, if we get this injury stuff under control the maybe we can dress and use more WR’s and mix it up.

  • steeltown

    I agree, I wish Moye with his size would turn into something, but probably just a camp bady.. Gilreath on the other hand has every opportunity to make the Team, he could beat out Burress, especially considering his ability to play on special teams as a KR

  • TheBlitz

    If Sanders leaves as a FA next off-season because he can earn a huge payday somewhere else ( assuming he has a monster 2013 season), the Steelers will get a compensation pick for him in the 2014 draft. Less just say for the sake or arguments they get a 3rd pick. Then that’s not a bad idea after all.

    If he plays well but not great, then they still can sign him cheap next off-season and keep and good (not great) WR and still be competitive without breaking the bank, because he won’t have any good looks in the open market. Unless Belicheat is still interested in overpaying him.

    These are maybe the main reasons why they decided to match the offer. Because they can still be competitive this season, and get a draft pick even if Sanders leaves next off-season.

    Now the real question is: Do they believe next year WR draft class is loaded or more talented than this year’s class if Sanders leaves ? Possibly.

    With that being said, I’m starting to doubt he will get an extension this off season.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Agreed (mostly). We watched Wallace play like a 3 string fill in last year and he got rewarded handsomely. Maybe Sanders has the same game plan. There was a time when players WANTED to be a member of the Steelers. Not so much lately. That’s a sad state of affairs.

  • David Edward


  • David Edward

    Lol…of course you can choose wisely. Right now, who looks like the wiser choice…Antonio Brown in round 6 or Sanders in 3? Also, remember instead of Sanders they could’ve had Eric Decker or even ILB Navarro Bowman. The goal of any draft is to make smart choices and get good value. I do agree with your second line though that sometimes even what appears to be wise choices end up as busts. However, you contradict that point by saying the draft pick will be a project that will play in his second year. That’s not a bust, I’d gladly take that if he can be a starter in year two. As for pleasing Ben, well I haven’t said they aren’t going to bring in new playmakers…they certainly would be…but you can never let a player make the personnel decisions for you.Keep in mind, at one point, Wallace, Brown, and Sanders were once rookies who Ben complained about too. It’s part of the game.

  • steeltown

    I’ll say this.. if Sanders racks up Wallace ’12 numbers (800+yds 8TD’s) then it’s $2.5MIL well spent

    Regarding the last part, I think its more so with the WR position than any other position on a Team.. WR’s are more likely to be divas and as we’ve seen in the last 5yrs, theyre starting to earn BIG BIG money that is usually undeserved. The Steelers however historically dont spend BIG BIG money at the position, so by default, we’re going to lose quite a few WR’s to FA….. as long as we continue to successfully draft em, and also continue to sign men like Ward, Cotchery and Brown, we’ll be fine

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    You are right that they won’t do it, but they should with both players you mentioned, especially Troy. The fact is these guys signed contracts at a time when the cap was anticipated to be a much higher than it is. All over the league, teams are dropping the salaries of their veterans to be in line with the new cap. I know it’s tough to ask such loyal performers to do this, but that is what they need to do start fixing their cap problems. Every $ you save this year carries over so I wouldn’t wait until next year.

  • hergieburbur

    Here is the thing with this year. The team has zero leverage to cut pay for either one. Troy and Clark are the only real safeties on the roster, so they can’t exactly threaten to cut him. Similar with Ike. They are very thin at CB with Ike, Allen and Gay being the only ones that have showed anything so far. They will draft a CB and a safety this year, and if for example, Victorian, Van Dyke, or Brown finally shows something this year, Ike likely won’t even be asked to take a cut and be released.

  • RW

    You’re ultimately right here – we don’t spend big money on the position and we’re usually willing to let quite a few big names go. It doesn’t mean that this decision was a good one, however, because I don’t believe that a) he can even match Wallace’s production and/or b) that he is the right receiver for our system. He seems afraid/unwilling to go over the middle and when he does, he’s susceptible to losing control of the ball or his body. Bottom line is that he can’t make the tough catch. Moreover, given that he doesn’t seem to be a very good possession receiver, he would need to give us something in the deep passing game, something I don’t think he can do very well at all. He doesn’t seem to high point the ball well and, while his routes are good, his ability to beat someone in man/press coverage is pedestrian at best. I think we could have gotten a combination of Patterson and Bailey in this draft and would have been fine, even for this year. I understand where the organization is coming from from a familiarity standpoint, particularly with Heath potentially being down and no true number 2 receiver, but I also inherently understand that a) this is a business and this move requires more money than it’s worth and b) first year receivers can step in and produce 800 yard/8 touchdown seasons without developing much of a route tree while relying mostly on athleticism. Don’t get me wrong, our depth was bad, but we’d have more than made up for it by drafting a couple good receivers in rounds 1 and 3, while still having a good shot at grabbing an ILB in the second, a RB in the 3rd and an OL in the 4th. For me the value of a 3rd rounder was there. Oh well.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    The leverage they have is the market for players of their age and skill. If they ask them to each take a 2M cut, that keeps them at a level 2X of what they would get if they are released. You are right, they won’t do it, though.

  • Pete

    Yes. Everyone saw what happened with Wallace. Sanders is signed so he has to attend all camps but his agent came out and said they are also entertaining playing out the year and going to FA.

    Apparently Sanders had multiple teams seeking his services as a RFA, So it stands to reason he’ll be sought after as a UFA. If he’s thinking money, he plays out the year and cashes in. Steelers get nothing except possibly a comp pick.

  • Pete

    Two years ago I said I didn’t believe the Steelers would be able to keep Wallace and that they’d possibly be able to keep both Brown and Sanders because they don’t like to spend a lot at WR. Scratch that. They will not be able to keep both Brown and Sanders. Since they paid Brown, Sanders is gone for a nice pay day after the 2013 season. The receiving core will be made up of Brown, cheaper free agents and successful new draftees who will be cheap for 4 years. Sanders has to be laughing.

  • steeltown

    I have to disagree about him being afraid or unwilling to go over the middle, but I will agree that his slight frame makes him susceptible to having balls jarred lose. But I think his quickness and lateral agility make him a good fit for Haley’s Offense.. his possible production as a starter remains to be seen, if he stays healthy I think he can make some noise

  • RMSteeler

    I would much rather have heard that Sanders begged the Steelers to match the offer because he wanted to stay. Instead, his agent told the press he’s likely to play out the year and see what FA holds for him. There’s the signal for the Steelers to draft an extra WR this year. Sanders is now saying publicly how glad he is to be with the Steelers, but his agents mouth left a stench likely to be smelled all year. Can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Pay your agent his commission and fire him! Only way to get away from his statement.

  • RW

    I hope you’re right. I guess my point is that another WR in this year’s draft class could do the same or more with the right athleticism. I suppose if we draft a WR early I’ll be fairly satisfied. Just stinks we can’t have Manny at a reasonable price for the long term (i.e. market value for a receiver yet to make said noise).

  • That will be career numbers for Sanders since he has 5 td’s in 3 seasons. He’s talented and needs to get stronger when carrying the ball. The 800+ yards and 8 td’s would be a nice season.

  • Sanders may not be laughing too hard if he doesn’t put up numbers. Wallace had 32 TD’s in his pocket going to Miami and Sanders has 5. I would like the Steelers to draft Swope in the 3rd round. Swope is bigger and plays alot tougher than Sanders. He would bring a toughness to the WR unit the Steelers haven’t had since Ward.