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Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders Promises Not To Coast To Close Out The Season


With two games left in the 2013 regular season and the Pittsburgh Steelers playoff chances looking bleak, several soon-to-be unrestricted free agents are about to play their final downs in a black and gold uniform. One of those players is likely to be wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, but the SMU product said on Wednesday that he has no intentions of coasting in an effort to avoid a long-term injury that could lower his value come the start of free agency.

"I know if I finish the season healthy, a lot of people are going to come at me," Sanders said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "You know, I can shut it down right now if I wanted to, but why? I am going to give it my all every time I step out there."

Sanders, who also said stated that he that he would like to remain in Pittsburgh if possible, has already set career-highs this season in receptions (63), receiving yards (707) and touchdowns (5), and those numbers alone will ensure that he gets plenty of offers from teams once free agency starts. In addition, he has extra value as he can return both punts and kickoffs.

With the Steelers already having wide receivers Antonio Brown and rookie Markus Wheaton locked up long-term, they aren't expected to make a strong play to retain the services of Sanders as those salary cap dollars and guaranteed monies will be needed for a few other high priority unrestricted free agents.

While Sanders might not cash in to the degree that former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace did last offseason with the Miami Dolphins, he might get close. As you can see in the table below, Sanders is likely to be considered one of the top five unrestricted free agent wide receivers during the offseason. If he closes out the season with the Steelers with a couple of good performances, it certainly won't hurt his bank account.

However, with the above being said, don't be surprised if Sanders all of a sudden has a minor problem with that foot of his leading up to the season finale against the Cleveland Browns should the Steelers wind up being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this Sunday. Last season, Wallace was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury in Week 17 after the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs in Week 16. Sanders' intentions right now might be good, but he would stand to lose a lot of money should he wind up getting injured in a meaningless game to close out the season.

Top 2014 Unrestricted Free Agent Wide Receivers As Of Week 16

Name Team Age G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng
Julian Edelman Patriots 27 14 9 89 914 10.3 6 44
Eric Decker Broncos 26 14 14 73 1130 15.5 8 61
Anquan Boldin 49ers 33 14 14 70 958 13.7 5 43
Emmanuel Sanders Steelers 26 14 9 63 707 11.2 5 55
Golden Tate Seahawks 25 14 12 54 735 13.6 4 80
Hakeem Nicks Giants 25 13 13 50 794 15.9 0 57
James Jones Packers 29 12 12 44 692 15.7 3 83
Jerome Simpson Vikings 27 14 8 44 689 15.7 1 51
Jerricho Cotchery Steelers 31 14 5 42 568 13.5 9 36
Riley Cooper Eagles 27 14 14 41 743 18.1 7 63
Santana Moss Redskins 34 14 0 38 426 11.2 2 28
Jacoby Jones Ravens 29 10 8 35 433 12.4 2 66
Darrius Heyward-Bey Colts 26 14 11 29 309 10.7 1 27

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Lamarr56

    Sanders is still having a very good season. He may have had som key drops, but his stats are better than Walllace’s last year, and is close to Wallace this year. He is still a very good receiver, and I don’t know why everyone’s riding him out of town.

  • Jason

    Man I know we don’t need another small reciever but Golden Tate reminds me a lot of Hines. Not saying he is as good but he’s tough as hell and just gets open.

  • Steve

    He’s had a decent season. He’s weak across the middle of the field, scared to take the hit, gives up when he’s covered tight instead of trying to make a play on the ball ala Wallace, doesn’t block worth a SH**, and HE DROPS TOO MANY KEY PASSES! He wants paid like a big time WR, shouldv’e played like a big time WR.
    And it’s apparent he’s had thoughts of “shutting it down” or why else would he bring it up. Yes he was probably asked the question, other than saying “absolutely not”, instead he let’s out that he’s had the thoughts and that he needs to finish the year healthy which means he won’t be 100% into the final two games and possibly by some miracle beyond if they get into the playoffs. Honestly, I really don’t think he’s ever been 100% into this organization or he truly is just a average WR.

  • Steve

    Sign JCO back, let Sanders walk, hopefully have some cap room to sign Tate and draft Evans in the 1st. That would something!

  • Jason

    I’m all for it.

  • Shea Fahr

    We could use a big strong WR in the first few rounds of the draft for sure.

  • srdan

    He is not expecting or getting big receiver money. He is not a number 1.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    Sanders will be another young player that the Steelers develop for another team. It is a shame that we can’t keep him. His is getting better every year. Good luck where ever you end up, Emmanual.

  • Virdin Barzey

    His comments exposes him every time he speaks. The season isn’t over but he already thinking about all the teams that are coming after him. Then he claims that he can shut it down if he wants to not if the team wants him to but himself. Genius.

    As much as Sanders and Wallace wants us to believe they wanted to be Steelers, it all about getting paid not where they are. These guys are about the money and I’m not going to hate on them for it. However, they aren’t Steelers or about the Steelers and just like Wallet, don’t let the door hit you on the way out Sanders.

    Bye. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Just as many (not all) of us saw that Brown was the better receiver, Wheaton is going to be way better than Sanders. With J-Co and Miller, we only need some young guys in the wings behind them.

    BTW, has anybody seen Moye?

  • srdan

    I agree. That is the cost of having a franchise QB.

  • srdan

    I wonder if Hakeem nicks will get overpaid. That is one talented SOB. Exactly what the steelers need out of the draft.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I’m with the group that thinks Sanders may be more affordable than people think. I could see him getting a little more than the $2.5mil he is getting now, but not much more. He is not a game breaker, but he is a decent #2 or very good #3 receiver. I think the fact he has developed with Roethlisberger and the Steelers means he has more value to them than other teams.

    By no means do you break the bank to keep him, but I would not shut the door on him either.

  • Mike Carroll

    Sanders is not getting anything close to Mike Wallace. Wallace got $12M per year. Sanders may not even see half that money!

    Sanders has had one moderately productively year as a number 2 with a top QB throwing him the ball. I’d put his worth at perhaps $3-4M per year. But, of course, there are many teams that will pay much more than should just as the Dolphins did last year. I could see a team offer $6M per year, but anything beyond that would be ridiculous.

  • Shea Fahr

    Sanders put up some worthy number 2 WR numbers BUT I think a case can be made that he played a Huge part in deciding our playoff fate thru several games with his Drops at the Worst Times of the game…never will be a number one like AB.

  • JohnnyV1

    Sanders is a good receiver overall. He’s had some big time drops this season that could have been the difference between a win & a loss. He has made some nice plays recently. Last week he made a nice catch & run on a 3rd down at the end of the game, showing great effort. He wants to finish strong b/c his next contract depends on it. Pittsburgh will get a decent compensatory pick in 2015.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I think the Steelers would be in a stronger position offensively keeping Sanders, as our quick receivers are a difficult bunch to cover. However, I think we all see the dollar signs in Emmanuel’s eyes, and he probably believes he’s worth more than he is. He won’t ask for AB’s money, but he’ll want something not too far off. Maybe 5 years for $30 million?

    Assuming he walks, we MUST get Cotch back. Wheaton is still green, and we’re likely to be grooming another new WR after the 2014 draft.

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. but that’s where Wheaton comes into play, he’s not as experienced but he is stronger and just as fast as Sanders, not to mention at this point cheaper.. I also hope we get Cotchery locked up for another 1-2yrs

  • steeltown

    Agreed..I think someone out there will look at his age, his speed and blocking ability and they’ll offer him somewhere between 4MIL and 6MIL per season

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Wheaton. I’d just feel better if he’d have gotten a few more snaps under his belt. He’s more or less a special teams player and a situational receiver to run the occasional deep/crossing/sideline route.

  • Jeff

    I’m not sure he can really afford to “coast” for the rest of the season anyways. Wallace coasted off his prior years (2010 and 2011) success to land the contract that he did. Sanders never had any season comparable to Wallace’s, and frankly his 2013 stats at this point don’t represent a #1 receiver contract that he will want. I wouldn’t mind if he’s back, contingent upon him getting a FAIR deal. If I had to guess though, someone else will pay him more than the Steelers are willing to and he’ll end up elsewhere….. I think it’s about time Ben gets what he wants in a bigger type receiver in the early rounds of the 2014 draft. Just my opinion

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    He’ll be worth whatever someone decides to pay him.

  • Jeff

    As a fan, it’s a cost I’m glad they’re willing to pay to have a franchise QB. There are a lot more Emmanual Sanders out there than there are Ben Roethlisbergers….

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Respectfully, no. A player is only worth what they contribute to a team. Paying $5,000 for a rusted old car in someone’s yard doesn’t make it worth the money you paid. If after you get it home, however, you find Jimmy Hoffa’s body and the Hope Diamond in the trunk, then it was absolutely worth the money…and more.

  • Jeff

    Maybe he’ll want more…. I remember Randle El got a deal worth 5 years 25 mill I believe and he was northing more than a 3rd wide receiver. Keep in mind this was several years ago so factor in NFL contract inflation.

  • steeltown

    Yes true, but same could be said for A.Brown his rookie season haha, not making any comparisons, just saying

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I agree with you. (again) No one is going to bring him in to be a #1 receiver and you just can’t allot more than $4mil to a guy who is going to be the #2 or #3 receiver. There are teams out there that do stupid things like that, but there seem to be less and less of them every year. It will be interesting.

    I have the same feeling about both Worilds and Sanders, Both are players that you want back and should compete to retain, but they need to be signed to moderate deals and you have to let them walk if someone wants to pay them too much. To me, both are in the $3-4mil ballpark.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Try, but AB had some big plays in the postseason his rookie year, at least. I like Wheaton’s potential, but let’s hope his second year mirrors AB’s!

  • Johnny Loose

    If he is gone next season, which he most certainly will be, I’d be interested in seeing how much it would cost to sign a guy like Heyward-Bey. I think He’s and underrated talent that could benefit the receiving corps in Pittsburgh. Only for the right price though. Doubt it would even be considered by the front office. I’m sure they’re already ten steps ahead of the process and have a plan set for the future. If I’m a team in need of a wideout with some money to spend. I’d most definitely be on the phone with Bolden’s agent. That dude is tough..

  • NW86

    That’s an interesting WR market. No huge names like last year, but several decent names. If I had to guess, Edelman and Decker will get the most money, with Sanders 3rd and Nicks 4th, but they could all be pretty close together.

    It will also be pretty interesting to see what NE does. They took a stab at Sanders last year, and now Edelman is a free agent too. I wonder who they value more?

  • ATL96STEELER

    Good for Sanders…solid #2 WR numbers…he’s very likely to be gone…I like seeing Steelers, even former Steelers make a big payday…I’ve coveted a taller WR for many years now, so I won’t shed any tears. Bottom line is he handled this far better than Wallace…I wish him well.

  • sean mcmartin

    The Steelers cannot afford to sign him .AB was the best deal and they got him.
    bench sanders and let some rookies play.

  • sean mcmartin

    As he shouldn’t
    .Of Course with.Hindsight …a 3rd rounder was a great deal for him.

  • sean mcmartin

    Agreed he is nothing special. and he does shy away from fighting for the ball like his buddy wallace. and cannot block
    The Steelers need a boldin type WR, who can use his body to deflect defenders and make the clutch catches like AB.

  • sean mcmartin

    EXACTLY you are dead on… Sanders is not a #1 WR. The Steelers have let a couple #1 WR’s go.. they won’t hesitate to let him walk without an offer..

  • sean mcmartin

    Would be nice to get a WR who is going to be here next season some playing time. The Steelers should let Wheaton and moye spilt time with sanders . and send sanders over the middle every play when he is in. Let his future team know he shies away from contact.

  • walter mason

    The thought would never have even occured with Hines. IMO he put his foot in his mouth. No surprises here. Bye

  • walter mason

    Some players should keep thoughts to themselves

  • Betz Smiff

    Will the Steelers still get a 3rd rounder as a comp pick when he leaves?

  • CrazyTerry

    I doubt he wil make enough in FA to singlehandedly get the Steelers a 3rd rounder. The comp picks are a cumulative formula of net free agent loss.

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