Report: Jets Expected To Have Interest In Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders During Free Agency

The New York Jets are looking to upgrade their wide receiver positions during the offseason and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders appears to be a free agent on their radar.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets covet the services of not only Sanders, but Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin as well. Both will be unrestricted free agents come the start of the new league year.

The Jets will reportedly cut ties with former Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes over the course of the next few weeks and that move will free up $8 million plus in salary cap space in the process.

Sanders, who will turn 27 next month, has expressed interest in re-signing with the Steelers after the 2013 season, but likely knows that unless he is to sign a contract below market value that the chances of that happening are very slim. The Steelers will expect Markus Wheaton to assume Sanders’ role in the offense after drafting him last April in the third-round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

As I pointed out in a previous post, Sanders, who had a career year in 2013 in his first season as a full-time starter, figures to be one of the top five unrestricted free agent wide receivers on the market this offseason. In addition to him playing receiver, the Jets could also be attracted to his ability to return both kickoffs and punts as well.

Sanders almost was allowed to walk last offseason as a restricted free agent but the Steelers decided to match the $2.5 million offer sheet that he signed with the New England Patriots right at the deadline. Had they not done so, they would have received a 2014 third-round draft pick as compensation for him leaving.

Being as the Patriots had interest in Sanders at that time, there’s no reason to think they won’t again this offseason and both they and the Jets could be in competition for his services along with a few other teams looking for a free agent wide receiver.

The Steelers originally drafted Sanders in the third-round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of SMU. Should he wind up signing with another team during the primary portion of free agency, the Steelers will likely receive a 2015 compensatory draft pick as a result.

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

    I’ll never understand why we didn’t use him more on kick returns, might as well have gotten our monies worth, oh well good luck Sanders

  • steeltown

    If this ends up happening it is sort of ironic, they went after Holmes and overpayed for his services.. will they do the same with Sanders

  • Sdale

    Hehe, exactly what I was thinking. Didn’t they get their fill of ex-Steelers recievers after Holmes? :)

  • Iron Cadet

    Take him away!

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Sanders has talent, but will ultimately only be as good as the system he’s in. I can’t imagine he wants to hop aboard the Rex Ryan/Geno Smith train after having Tomlin and Ben in Pittsburgh.

    And you have to love how the AFC East exchange always goes in favor of the Steelers. We lose Holmes, he catches the injury bug and fizzles out with the Jets. Plax ends up with the Jets and shoots himself. The Dolphins get Wallace, and he’s exactly the non-factor in Miami that many Pittsburgh fans predicted.

    But…

    We get Cotch from the Jets, who was getting burned by pecking order on the roster, and he puts up the best season of his career.

  • Matt Manzo

    Man I wish we gave him to the Pats for that 3rd rounder! Could’ve been a great xtra pick! But I get the thinking, I don’t think the plan was to go 8-8, I think they really thought Sanders was gonna be a piece of our 2013 success, even if only for one year. Too bad Succop sucks!

  • steeltown

    Exactly, they want to be as strong as possible and compete for the playoffs every year, letting Sanders go with Miller still recovering would not have been smart… plus im sure they had no idea Cotchery was going to have a career year

  • dgh57

    Hopefully this is the big good bye at last as he can take his immature act along with his problems with the dropsies, and his lack of being a reliable 2nd deep threat for this team somewhere else!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Good point

  • MP34

    When it comes to offensive players, why do the Jets seem to target offensive players, like George Costanza targeted girlfriends? You don’t pick the best one, just the one who’ll likely will say yes?

  • Jeff

    Having Sanchez as a QB couldn’t have helped his chances of playing to the value of his contract

  • treeher

    If he ends up with jets, he will find out what it’s like to not have Ben throwing the ball to him (like mr. wallace found out in miami).

  • T R

    because i think he fragile.. u start using Sanders on kick off returns.. he will be out of the games weeks on end. trust me.. he got few bumps and bruise on the little use he got ..

  • steellife007

    Makes you realize how great Ben actually is…and this organization to put our players in the best position to succeed and get the best out of them!

  • T R

    Why we just delayed our third round pick til 2015.. we will get it either way…

  • Jacob Dixon

    What do you think about Holmes coming back to Pittsburgh

  • Jacob Dixon

    Sanders will want to go to the patriots where he has Tom Brady and I’m sure they’ll offer him top dollar

  • Jason White

    Plax went to the Giants and shot himself. He signed with the Jets upon his return to the NFL.

  • SFIC

    LOL!

  • SFIC

    No thanks

  • itsgonnalast

    Agreed… I really don’t like Sanders’ playing style. He seems uncomfortable with long passes, excluding the Jets game. The guy had 112 targets and only 67 catches.

    It’s a longshot but I’d love to see the Steelers pick up Eric Decker (as was suggested on the podcast). He’s 6’3/214lb– a much bigger and more reliable receiver than Sanders.

  • myrique21

    I think bringing back Holmes would be a good move. I’m sure he’s humbled himself by now, and grew up! It would be great for him to have Ben throwing to him again; after what he had in NY. Plus, he’s is still fairly young with great hands and runs great routes. Brown, Holmes, Wheaton, and Cotchery; sounds like a great receiver corp to me.

  • Milliken Steeler

    He is going to want to much money and trust me, you dont want the Eric Decker / Jessie James show here. He disappeared in the Superbowl and now has to balance him and his wife’s reality show and being an NFL player? No thank you.

  • sean mcmartin

    see ya sanders. time for Wheaton to show his skills.
    These guys get their payday and do not care who the QB is.
    good riddance.

  • Alan Felicia

    No way Holmes comes back to Pittsburgh due to the same reason they got rid of him 5 years ago – ATTITUDE!! This guy is a complete cancer. If the Jets weren’t foolish enough to give him a huge contract, Holmes wouldn’t been cut a couple of years ago when he was fighting with not only his offensive teammates but also with coaches!
    I’ll be very surprised if he hooks up with another team other than the Raiders.

  • Brian Miller

    Not to mention the fact that he has played less than Sanders the last couple of years…

  • BurgherinMD

    Too often injured, ran too many incorrect routes and smoked too much doob

  • Anonymous

    Seriously.

    Why didn’t Reggie Dunn pan out? Your suggestion just randomly reminded me of Dunn.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    WR Jared Abbrederis seems like he could fill Sanders’ role on this team. Interested in his combine performance, maybe he’s there for our 3rd(?) rd comp pick.

  • Louis

    I’ll never understand the decision to keep Sanders. The cost was exponentially greater than many realize. Think about it, the Steelers gave up the Patriots’ 2013 3rd round pick in order to keep him, but didn’t sign him to a long term deal. They only got 1 year of service from him and now will most likely get a 7th round comp pick in 2015. Without the Patriots’ 3rd round pick, the Steelers had to trade away this year’s 3rd round pick to the Browns in order to draft Shamarko Thomas. So, the Steelers gave up a 2013 3rd pick and a 2014 3rd round pick, in exchange for Shamarko Thomas, 1 year of service from Sanders and a 7th round pick. Had they not kept Sanders they’d still have a 3rd round pick in this year’s draft.

  • Jazz

    Great? No, Ben is good at what he does, but he’s not great. Ben was great down the stretch in 2013, he got rid of the ball quickly, took less sacks, threw far less interceptions. Does he have the potential to be great? Absolutely! But he needs to continue to play the game the way he did down the stretch in 2013. Tom Brady is Great, as much as I can’t stand his A$$, Pretty MF. Peyton Manning has been great over the course of his career. Truth be told, I still would have to rank Big Ben in the Top 5 easy. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are the only two QB’s I would rank ahead of Big Ben. The only QB I could see replacing Big Ben would be Andrew Luck.
    Sanders; I agree, if Sanders goes to New York, I think he will struggle in their system at first, but I do believe he will be productive. Geno Smith didn’t have any weapons last yr, but he did improve over the course of the 2nd season. Now if Sanders end up in New England, Denver or Indy, he will make the Pro Bowl. I said it first. And I agree with a few of the previous posts as well, I don’t know what the hell Tomlin is thinking, Sanders should have been used more on Kickoff returns instead using two RB’s. STUPID!!!! I’m starting to lose all faith in Tomlin and his dumb A$$ Coaching decisions.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Matt, if the Steelers did an honest evaluation of their roster between 2012 and 2013, how could they not think in terms of 8-8 or worse .

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Not quite as fast, but a much better over all player. than Sanders.

  • WIINGY

    We should of took the 3rd rounder last year. Oh well. Bye Sanders.

  • Steve

    Never would have thought Ike and Clark could tackle and Larry Foote would have got hurt so early in the season.

  • Steve

    With you on that, makes no sense. But a lot of things Tomlin did this year make no sense. Best sense he made was get some new coaches.

  • Matt Manzo

    That’s true. But this year there’s so many CBs and Safety’s and WRs to be had in 3 that it would be nice to have now.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Sanders isn’t durable like A Brown. If we would have used him like that I doubt he would have made it to the 8th game. I like Sanders but he drops a lot of balls and he’s had his share of injuries. Next man up lets see what Wheaton has to offer now

  • Douglas Andrews

    Crazy thought wonder if we could get Holmes back?

  • Rick Austin

    Depends on how much he signs for and how well he does. I don’t think I would say we get a third automatically.

  • steeltown

    I think he had little to no skills as a receiver. We cant give an entire roster spot to a guy that just returns kicks, he has to provide depth at WR or RB as well