Merril Hoge Thinks Steelers Have To Match Emmanuel Sanders Offer Sheet For Sake Of Ben Roethlisberger

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge was asked to give his thoughts Wednesday on ESPN NFL Live on the decision that the Steelers are now facing in regard to restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has signed a one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet with the New England Patriots.

Hoge, who is never shy about giving his opinion on anything related to the Steelers, thinks that they have no choice but to match the offer sheet. If they choose not to, Hoge worries about the message that it would send to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who would then have suffered the loss of two of his three wide receivers this offseason.

“The guy that you would lose out of this whole deal would be Ben Roethlisberger,” said Hoge. “You know you\’ve failed to accomplish your goal of fixing the offensive line. The goal behind that was so that we could keep Ben Roethlisberger from taking a bunch of hits. Now you deplete the arsenal on the perimeter, and you really still haven\’t fixed your offensive line problems. And we really don\’t have a guy back here (running back) that we can count on for 20 touches a game.”

Hoge, who is a good friend of Roethlisberger\’s, has a good point, and it will be interesting to see the reaction of the Steelers quarterback should indeed general manager Kevin Colbert choose not to match the offer to Sanders.

“No-brainier, baby,” said Hoge. “You sign him. You keep him as a Pittsburgh Steeler. Without him, their depth, and what I believe used to be the most dynamic three in all of football, it\’s gone.”

  • steeltown

    Its a little premature to say that the FO has “failed” to fix the OLine.. if the current guys stay healthy they could be a dominant force. I guess that remains to be seen though.

  • Superdriller316

    What a crock of crap. Just because he played for us way back when, now he a expert on what’s best for us. If so, how many OL do we need to draft to fix the OL?
    Ben is supposed to be a leader on that team. If Manny walks, it’s not like he won’t be replaced with one if not two or three WR’s. Do these people think that there is no one in this draft better than Manny? Both of the boys from WV are better. What about Swope? He’s taller, faster, and tougher.

  • HoustonJr

    Couldn’t agree more. The O-Line is made up of first and second round draft choices. What more could the front office do (outside of bringing in FA’s – which is not our way of operating)? It’s not the front office’s fault that the o-line has been plagued by injuries the past few seasons.

  • Jollyrob68

    Maybe the message to Ben is It’s time to evolve,sandlot ball is over. Here’s new weapons to play with now follow Hayles script and distribute the ball around.

  • zyzak

    Ben will be POd plenty

  • Informed reader

    The Patriots did the Steelers a favor. The Steelers can match the offer even with their cap issues. It is only a difference of about a million from the tendered offer. However, there is no point signing Sanders for one year, then losing him next year in free agency if any other team offers more (which they will). Pittsburgh needs to make a long term decision on him now. Either sign him to a multi-year deal and lock him up, or let the Pats take him and get a 3rd round pick. If they match the 1 yr. offer and lose him next year, they get nothing. Sanders is pretty good, but he is not the make or break piece of the season. If he is not in their long-term plans, they should take the pick.

  • K.S. Ziegler

    On the other hand, it might send the message: “Hey Ben, sure we’ll sign you for more than Joe Flacco and way more than Romo, but otherwise we’ll just have to scimp.”

  • SteelerDave

    Steelers have no choice but to match the 2.5 mil offer. Is Sanders a proven commodity? No. However he has shown enough that 2.5 is well worth the gamble. Hodge makes some good points.

  • r rieser

    You would think Sanders was a top 10 receiver based on Merril Hoge’s assessment. Truth of the matter is, Sanders is an adequate receiver (at best) with health issues year in and out. I hate to see him go, but I imagine whatever the Steelers’ 2013 record is, it will be the same with or without Sanders.

  • charles

    Sanders represents a lot of offensive (and maybe offensive) weapons lost. After last year I grew to not care for Wallace but we have to admit that we have lost some ability to stretch the field. Sanders however is very replacable. I think that what we are seeing here is Haleys indelible signature on our offense. And it is not Ariens offense anymore.

  • hergieburbur

    I think part of what he was getting at, though he was far from clear, is that we had the skills guys and had a terrible OL, and now that we are fixing the OL, we are letting the skills guys walk. Brown could well be the only experienced WR we have under 29 or 30 to start the season, and it is hard to justify that given what we had last season.

  • hergieburbur

    Drafting 3 WRs would be beyond stupid. 1 or 2 is realistic, but expecting two to contribute when we would be lucky to have one do so is a stretch. Sanders walking leaves us with no true #2 (Cotch is a #3), or at best, no number 3, as Burress is a spot guy only at this point.

  • Superdriller316

    I didn’t say draft 3 WR’s. Draft one or two and pick up a FA. Sanders isn’t even a #2, he’s a slot guy. For him to sign that offer makes me believe he thinks the Steelers wouldn’t offer him a long term deal. I would take S. Bailey over Manny any day. If we can’t start a rookie WR there is a problem. What happens if we match the offer and next year he walks? Still in the same spot, only we might not get any thing for him and if we do, it will be in 15. If he was more productive I could see keeping him, but look at all the issues he’s had. NE is big on brining in a lot of WR’s then cutting them. Who’s to say we don’t get him back.

  • LucasY59

    I agree 3 WR’s are unnecessary, but I think with the WR depth in the draft is very good and 2-3 offensive picks in the first 4 rounds could very realistically replace what was/could be lost this offseason. a WR/WRs, TE and RB could all be taken in rounds 1-4 and could be an upgrade over losing Wallace (only a deep threat) Mendenhall (dancing in the backfield) possibly Sanders (injured more than he has played and not holding onto the ball) plus Millers unfortunate Injury. It also helps the team get younger and more cap friendly.

    let the young guys play

  • Superdriller316

    They only paid Wallace 2.7 million. I don see them paying 2.5 million for a slot guy. Ben will have guys to throw to.

  • rizzo29

    Like Josh Freeman would idiot

  • Mike

    Ha ha,Ben better worry about his own job ,that long handoff advertisement he pulled all year.The run game was sabotaged this year by him because of Haley and him don’t get along!

  • David Edward

    Hi Informed, you are correct. If Sanders was in their long-term plans they would have offered him a long-term deal instead of the $1.3M tender. They realize Sanders will want to walk next year as a UFA the way Wallace did this year. He won’t get big time money, but will get more elsewhere as the Pats probably already have worked out. Taking the pick @ 3-91 is the way to go rather than pay him an extra $1.2M for this year. Steelers have too many needs to fill short and long-term…and extra pick and extra cap space is a way to help solve that…even at the expense of Sanders. As you mention, he isn’t a make-or-break piece of the O.

  • hergieburbur

    “If we can’t start a rookie WR there is a problem.”

    Rookie WRs rarely make starter level impact in the NFL. To count on one to come in and produce at that level is folly.

    We have to draft at least one WR no matter what. All that letting him walk does is force that number up to 2, one of which is pretty much a swap for what we have. The only value is in a slightly lower cap number. As for what if he walks, I’ve stated before they should only match if they intend to extend him, which honestly, IMO they should have been trying to do by now.

  • hergieburbur

    I would rather see them take a TE like Eifert early then pick a RB and WR int he third if we let him walk.

  • LucasY59

    yep, if Ben wants big $ then he better get used to not having anyone to throw to, l hope by next year he sees that asking for a huge contract hurts him and the rest of the team. (as much as I hate to say it, he should be more like Brady) realize his next contract is not only his last chance to get big $, but also his last chance to get another Superbowl win (it wont happen if a huge amount of the salary cap is being used to pay him) take less $ so the team can put some other high quality players on the field with him

  • LucasY59

    yep and a Safety in the 2nd

  • hergieburbur

    Oh I am all over P. Thomas in the 2nd, I think he is a perfect fit.

  • Superdriller316

    AJ Green, J jones, K Wright, M Floyd, J Blackmon. Floyd only had 562 yds, everyone else either met or beat by a long shot in their rookie year than Manny did in his 3rd. So I think you can count on rookies to produce.

  • hergieburbur

    Wow, 5 examples. Five. That proves it. It’s a good thing I can’t counter with names like Tedd Ginn, Robert Meachem, Craig Davis, Anthony Gonzalez, Mark Clayton, Mike Williams, Reggie Williams, etc that made little or no impact in their rookie season. And those guys were all first round picks. You are confusing CAN make an impact, with can be COUNTED ON to make an impact. They are very different things, and statistically, more often than not, they can’t be counted on to come in and produce. Since 1970, only 160 out of well over 1000 rookie WRs have cracked 500 yards in their rookie year. Only 54 have also scored 5 or more TDs.

    Yes, they can produce, but to count on it is not a great strategy.

  • hergieburbur

    For what it’s worth, Blackmon’s year wasn’t great when you consider that he was the Jags entire offense and still caught less than half of his targets.

  • You must not watch much football because there have been many rookie WR that have had great years… EJ Green Eddie Royal, Desan Jackson, Larry Fitz, Wallace, Holmes, Boldin, Harvin too name just a few

  • Superdriller316

    Blackmon still put up 865 yds. Then there is: Titus Young, Torrey Smith, Dez Bryant, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Mike Wallace. Just a few more. Hell T Austin put up all most as many total yds in one game the Sanders caught all year. So yes a rookie can produce, even a third rounder like Wallace. And yes there are some that won’t produce, but most teams will have a rookie WR that puts up stats.

  • hergieburbur

    You pay too much attention to fantasy football and media, and not facts. For each of those guys, there are 4-5 that failed to produce as rookies. On average, 5 WRs out of each draft have decent rookie years. An average of between 25 and 30 WRs that play as rookies each year. Generously, that means about 20% make an impact. 20% is NOT a number you can count on.

    You may see below that I said rookie WRs CAN have great seasons, but statistically, you can NOT EXPECT them to.

  • hergieburbur

    I never said they can’t produce. I said it is not a reasonable expectation to count on them producing. I did some further digging. Of the rookies that play each season, an average of 5 out of 25-30 will put up 500 or more yards. That’s generously a 20% rate, which is not “most teams”. More often than not, they do not make the impact you want in a starter, so it is unreasonable to count on them.

    We are already likely counting on production out of one rookie WR, why count on a second when the numbers say it is such a long shot?

  • hergieburbur

    Driller, Hodge, long story short, exceptions are not the norm. You are both treating them as if they are.

    Look at it another way. A QB drafted in the 6th round CAN go on to win multiple SBs and have a HOF career, that doesn’t mean you should expect it of everyone.

  • Superdriller316

    And if he walks next year, at best you get a pick at the end of the third round, but not likely. Then we wont see it till ’15. If he was putting up 800 yds a year, we’re not having this conversation. Take the 91st pick and go after S Bailey or R Swope in the 3rd. We have a new WR Coach and guys that were on the PS that have a shot to show what they have, and when we only dress 4 WR’s it’s hard to get some OJT. His 3 year production doesn’t warrant 2.5 million, hell we only paid Wallace 2.7 million. And I’m all for giving rookies a shot. If they know the playbook get them out there. It’s the best way to learn.

  • hergieburbur

    91 IS a pick at the end of the 3rd round. Yes, it is a pick now, which is good, and if we had any depth at WR or didn’t have so many needs I would be all over that pick. But letting Sanders walk leaves us with 1 WR under the age of 31 with any real experience and only two that can be relied on to play the majority of downs. The guys on the PS are question marks, and it is hard to count on the draft. Yes, it is a great draft to have 2nd and 3rd round picks, but we can’t count on any one guy being there and we can’t trade up. We have top 4 needs at OLB, ILB, Safety, CB, WR, RB and TE without letting Sanders walk. All that letting him go does is add a second WR to that list and amounts to swapping him for a roll of the dice.

  • hergieburbur

    “His 3 year production doesn’t warrant 2.5 million, hell we only paid Wallace 2.7 million.”

    Not really a valid comparison, since they offered Wallace the 8.5 that Brown got and he turned it down. That said, I wouldn’t be shocked if they valued Sanders that much in Haley’s offense, as he fits it well. On the other hand, if Breaston’s knee was healthy, I don’t think we are having this discussion either.

  • Superdriller316

    I don’t expect it, but Brady wasn’t a starter his rookie year. Now Ben is a different story. You have to have faith we can get the 5% and not the Sweeds. We’ve done a better than average job getting good WR’s latter in the draft. I think they know who they want and that’s why they only gave Manny an original round tender, hoping someone would bite.

  • hergieburbur

    That’s is entirely possible, though I think if that is in fact their plan, they don’t intend to use the extra pick on a WR. I think they would still pick one, but only one, in that case.

    And while we’ve done well with late round WRs, the have done very poorly in a lot of other spots, so they are in a tough place this year.

  • Superdriller316

    In a few short weeks we will find out what their plan is. No matter what happens everyone will rally behind them

  • Superdriller316

    91 is within the last 5 without comp picks. With the way teams are watching what they spend, if he goes next year at best we might get a 4th. We have 6 TE’s on the roster and 7 WR’s on the roster and 9 CB’s too. LB is a need (both ILB and OLB) and so is RB and a couple WR’s.

  • hergieburbur

    Without a doubt.

  • hergieburbur

    Of the 6 TEs, 2 are FBs and only one is a receiving threat and he is injured. Looking at Eifert wouldn’t surprise me.

    Of the WRs, I would love to see something from Gilreath and Moye, Moore and Reed are camp bodies. Burress is a spot player, so there is definitely a need there if they let Sanders go. Likely even if they don’t.

    CB is still a need I think. Outside of Ike, Allen and Gay, Brown and Van Dyke haven’t shown me much. Victorian I don’t know about yet either. Plus, they have looked long at hard at CBs in the pre-draft visits.

    LB is well discussed, but safety really scares me. We’ve got Troy and Clark, who are both near the end. And Golden and DCS, who look to be depth guys at best. One of the main reasons I want to see us take a safety in round 2.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I mentioned this ages ago. If Rothlisberger walks in to the office and asks for a PAYCUT, he could change the face of the team. It would represent to everyone that he wants to win. Does he really need to make $200 million over the course of his career? How about $100 million,

    Then, you will see others perhaps think the same way. If these studs take a little less money, the Steelers could keep more players and obtain more players. More weapons means a much better chance at winning Super Bowls. It means back-ups that can step in when the inevitable injuries happen. Remember that they did not want to sign Starks, then they did and he played well for all 16 games, I believe.

    I said it once, I’ll say it again. That would be the ideal sceanrio.

    Otherwise, let Sanders go, and reload. By the way, I say great upside for Gilreath, who has speed, made some phenomenal catches last preseason, and can probably be a returner as well.

  • steeltown

    I can agree with that.. though last year our roster with that WR depth chart produced an 8-8 season. I think personally, having A.Brown and Cotchery along with a TOP WR in the draft is not to shabby, with Burress and Gilreath as #4 and #5.. and possibly another TE via the draft to go along with Heath and Paulson. Plus a new RB of course to run with Dwyer and Redman

    There are alot of other Teams out there that are worse off then we would be

  • JC

    I agree with Hoge and Taylor. We have so many needs to fill already and this would completely change their draft board. It would force us to probably spend 2 picks on WRs and we really can’t rely on a rookie or Burress and Cotchery due to their age. Also, we’re most likely going to lose some more high-priced veterans next season so we should have some money freed up to sign Sanders long-term if necessary. We’ll have have compensatory picks next year from losing Walkace and Lewis to fill some more needs.

  • Michael Wheeler

    There are probably over a hundred QB’s and a thousand WRs that can look like pro-bowlers if they have the leagues best OL. Not saying the Steelers OL is the best, far from it actually, but if they start playing like their draft status they will be. So any skill players can play like stars, we don’t need no stinkin’ overpaid skill guys.

  • walter mason

    Ben uses all his weapons. He distributes the ball well. No complaint there and there is no message to Ben.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    What else do you think, Merril? Just look at the teleprompter.

  • hergieburbur

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we need to overpay for skills guys, I actually prefer your approach. Just trying to understand where Hoge is coming from.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Who cares what Merril Hodge thinks. Amazing anyone loses sleep thinking a comment from Dilfer or Hodge will influence the outcome of future games.

  • Maurice_hill_district


  • Maurice_hill_district

    Good point he’s a Mr. Generic. I cant sleep til I know wtf he thinks about anything. 🙂

  • Chris Ranieri

    Lol you won’t let this man live the Freeman comment down haha

  • Chris Ranieri

    This sounds great typing it on the keyboard, but what makes you think players want to take less money than what they want/deserve/are valued at? Especially for the sake of winning? Ben could go play for a different team, a perennial power, somewhere say where his weapons are greater and defense is younger, and have a better chance to win AND make more money. Your whole assumptions are based off loyalty. Loyalty is a diminishing commodity in NFL players nowadays who are driven by blood sucking agents who densely overvalue their clients to write their own paychecks. This is the most ideal of scenarios you are representing which is just all to unrealistic in the market today. No one wants to get paid less than what they deserve, and less than they KNOW they can make, especially if you are talking about asking for a paycut.

  • Joe Montesano

    I think that the front office knows what they have and what they need.Should they let Manny walk they can sign a free agent wide receiver or running back with the money they save and still draft the best player available in each round!

  • rizzo29

    That was one of the stupidest comment,s ever posted on here he needs reminding

  • I don’t track or getting into fantasy sports so please don’t put words into my mouth. I never said anywhere that any rookie is a price product going out of college. You naming rookies that have failed is not really valid. What position in the NFL draft is proven to be 100% lock in production? If you can name that then you need to be in a teams front office. All I am saying and believe others are trying to point out that it is possible to find a rookie that could possibly fill the void left by him leaving. Not one player we draft this can we 100% count on, it’s sports after all.