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.”