2013 Salary Cap

Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders Looking For A Very Good Long-Term Deal

As expected, the talk about Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who had his one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet that he signed with the New England Patriots matched on Sunday, has now shifted to whether or not a long-term deal can be worked out between now and the start of the 2013 season.

Sanders agent Jordan Woy reportedly told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday that his client is indeed looking for a long-term deal right now, but is also open to becoming an unrestricted free agent next offseason if one can\’t be reached.

“We are open to discussing a multiyear contract,” Woy said, via the report. “We are also open to him playing the year out.”

Here is the kicker from Woy.

“It would have to be a very good deal for us to sign a multi-year agreement.”

Sanders, who was present on Monday for the first phase of the Steelers offseason workouts, reportedly had teams other than Patriots interested in him as a restricted free agent this season.

“We had several teams make offers in free agency so we know there are teams who really like Emmanuel,” Woy claimed.

So, Woy admits that a long-term deal by now would have been ideal, and if indeed that is the case, you have to wonder why Sanders didn\’t get one via an offer sheet, being as, according to him, so many teams reportedly had interest in his client.

To me, this sounds like a classic case of agent speak and posturing.

So what now?

As I have pointed out previously, getting a long-term deal done with Sanders between now and the start of the season will be tough to do being as the Steelers have a limited amount of cap space to work with until June 2nd rolls around. Even when they do free up another $5 million plus after the release of Willie Colon becomes final, they will not have a lot of extra cap space to play with. Maybe $1 million or slightly higher at tops.

Can a new deal get done by the start of the season? Yes, but it will take both sides to get it done and perhaps a little creativity.

According to the rules of the CBA, Sanders can\’t have his $2.5 million base salary lowered, so any signing bonus given to him as part of an extension will only make his cap hit go higher, and as previously stated, the Steelers won\’t have much to play with.

If indeed Woy sticks to his guns, you would figure that he would not be interested in having his client take anything less than $6 million as a signing bonus on a three year extension. If he is willing to take less than that on a three-year extension, and make up the rest in a second year roster bonus, perhaps there is a chance that a deal could be reached before the start of the season. Not knowing his asking price, however, makes it all too hard to speculate, but we will try just the same.

The Steelers gave wide receiver Antonio Brown an $8.5 million signing bonus as part of his five-year extension that he signed last offseason. He was also given a $2.5 million roster bonus for this season as part of the deal. As a result, the amount of money that he will pocket in his first two years of his extension, when you include his base salaries, will be $13.54 million.

Does Sanders deserve that kind of money yet? I think that all of you probably answered no to that.

Would Sanders and Woy take $12 million in the first two years of a new deal? If so, what would such a deal look like?

If Sanders\’ 2013 and 2014 base salaries were $2.5 million and $3.5 million respectively, that would put him at $6 million over two years. Giving him a $4 million signing bonus and a second year roster bonus of $2 million, would total him out at $12 million after two years.

So what would the cap hits look like for Sanders in 2013 and 2014 based on those numbers?

In 2013, his cap hit would be $3.5 million, which the Steelers could possibly swing, and in 2014, assuming his $2 million roster bonus was turned into a signing bonus next March, his 2014 cap hit would be $5.17 million. The final two years of base salaries would of course need to be negotiated out, but if they were $6 million and $8 million respectively, we are looking at a four year take of $26 million, which breaks down to a yearly average value of $6.5 million. Brown\’s yearly average value of his new deal was $7.087 million.

So what about the Steelers cap liability after the first two seasons? Based on a $4 million signing bonus and a $2 million restructured roster bonus, Sanders could be cut after the first two years with only $3.33 million worth of dead money left to eat.

As you can see, the numbers can be made to work, but only if Woy and Sanders are reasonable with their demands. If they are expecting the same kind of money that Brown received last offseason, Sanders will have to play out the 2013 season and take his chances as an unrestricted free agent next offseason. If that winds up being the case, he better hope he has a 70 catch, 1,000 yard season in 2013 and plays in all 16 games.

Regardless, a new deal, if one is to be reached, will not happen until the start of training camp, so we have all summer to speculate what may or may not happen.

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