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Steelers Are Prepared For WR Emmanuel Sanders To Test Free Agency


Last offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to match the one-year, $2.5 million restricted offer sheet that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed with the New England Patriots. On Thursday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, general manager Kevin Colbert was asked to reflect on that decision.

"I think any decision you look back on, you start with where we were," Colbert said, according to ESPN.com. "We finished 8-8. In my opinion, none of the decisions were good enough because we weren't in the playoffs."

Sanders, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league, did, however, have career highs in catches (67), yards (740) and touchdowns (six) in his first full season as a starter. Still, as expected, the Steelers will let him test the free agent market knowing that he will likely sign elsewhere.

"Emmanuel came back and had a nice year for us, and we were happy to have him, and where he goes in free agency and what his market is, we don't know at this point, but he certainly performed for us last year," Colbert said. "And we'll see where it is in the future."

It has already been rumored that the New York Jets will make a run at Sanders, who was drafted in the third-round of the 2010 NFL Draft. In addition to them, the Patriots could also still have interest in signing him as well.

Sanders is expected to be one of the top five or six unrestricted free agent wide receivers on the market and while the Steelers generally like to re-sign their own free agents, Sanders market value is expected too rich for them.

The Steelers drafted Markus Wheaton last year with the hopes he would eventually become the starter. He missed valuable playing time during his rookie season because of a broken finger, but should benefit from having a full offseason this year under his belt.

The Steelers are also expected to make a concerted effort to retain veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who like Sanders, will be an unrestricted free agent in a matter of weeks. The team is also expected to address the wide receiver position during the draft and they reportedly have already told quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that they intend on getting him a "tall" wide receiver in the first few rounds.

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About Dave Bryan

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

    The reports of drafting a tall WR mixed with the selection of Wheaton last year and the probable re-signing of Cotchery has us all thinking that Sanders will be gone.
    After reading what Colbert has said (or didn’t say for the matter) I am even more certain of it.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    They are letting him walk. I think that much is certain. Colbert’s whole comment on it didn’t even mention anything like…if we could match.

  • shawn

    i think that has been the most probable move all season long .. i think its the right decision, he’s decent but better cheaper players can be had !

  • PA2AK

    Would be a smart move. He works hard from most people that i’ve heard, but he has been trying to get over the hump (by foot injuries/untimely drops) for 4 years. While his numbers improved…how was he not able to get open more often given AB’s immediate impact calling for more defensive focus on him? I could be harping on the bad too much (wouldn’t be a surprise) but he seemed to drop some ‘sure thing’ opportunities last year. It WAS his first full year away from the foot injuries (i think) so maybe he will develop, but I think the Steelers have spent enough time with him.

  • treeher

    For having three years in the league, Sanders displays some poor behavior on the field, even to the point of hurting the team a couple times (not playing to the whistle, having little temper tantrums on the field). Some people may see this as passion, I see it as immaturity. Let him walk.

  • cencalsteeler

    Let me get this straight. Sanders puts up career highs as Dave posts. He cost the Steelers 2.5 million last year in doing so. Now, I’m all for letting him walk, and I agree with what the organization is doing. What I don’t understand is why is there a debate at corner when Ike has the worst stats in the league and is going to cost us 7 mill. next year? Even a 50% discount is still not worth his value when compared to other players salaries. People are ready to toss Sanders to the curb, but seem to have a love affair with Ike. I don’t get it. I think we need to cut ties with Clark and Ike the same way were cutting ties with Sanders.

  • Nolrog

    I just know there’s a GM out there stupid enough to give him a big contract. Hello 3rd round comp pick.

  • Nolrog

    The defense puts so little pressure on the opposing QB that it really hurts the corners a lot. You can’t expect them to cover (and cover the other teams best receiver) for 6, 8 even 10 seconds. Get more pressure on the QB and the secondary and take aways improve dramatically.

  • Brian Miller

    We can make an attempt to keep him, but all it takes is one or two idiot teams like the Vikings or Dolphins to offer him way more than his value is, and we will be out of the running, and understandably so.

  • shawn

    I think the difference is Ike has been solid for many years and people are giving him a little leeway and not calling for his head like sanders which had no positive history with us … i think ike’s abilities didnt drop off a cliff in 1 YEAR … yes lets get a big cut out of him, but i do think he provides depth and is serviceable for one more year … otherwise if we do let him walk i would all be for picking up a quality corner in FA if there is one for 5 mil

  • shawn

    Yes its a catch 22 … a good pass rush would go a long way in improving our DBs play and if our DBs were better it would help our pass rush … it appears we have neither … here’s to getting a couple good DBs in the draft and JJ and the pass rush getting better in the near future

  • shawn

    i dont think anybody would give him much these days … what 34 yrs old coming off a horrendous year, possible but heavily doubted would love a 3rd round comp which we should have gotten from sanders !

  • shawn

    offer him 5 mil/2 yrs … if he balks let him walk, i think he would regret it if he tried to leave … how many older vets that leave pitts end up improving their careers ??

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Another young player let go. This troubles me and we have yet to see this kids best. Last year was his first year starting. It will take too much to keep him but last year was our chance to bet on him at a much lower price. We have gambled with young players and keep losing

  • Douglas Andrews

    We can probably squeak by with Ike for another year but Clark is already gone as he won’t be resigned. As long as we can generate a much better pass rush and more turnovers I think we’ll be okay at with our DB situation.

  • shawn

    we know he’ll be in shape and I’m sure he still runs at least a high 4.4 so he hasn’t lost too much … but hopefully he doesn’t put up similar numbers/ performances to last year … we need to be aggressive with DBs in the draft over the next 2 years or even possibly a FA pick up !

  • shawn

    i think its for the best especially considering the other 2 guys we have are so similar … would be nice to get somebody to help in the RZ and they all complement each other

  • Steve

    Two years ago when Wallace was holding out, took a chance and gave AB a contract and he has excelled and money well spent.

  • Steve

    Colbert is saying we will draft a tall WR. Benjamin may be that draft pick.

  • shawn

    not sure if it was colbert but heard the rumours … guess that could be in any of the top 3 rounds but if they do pick Benj i hope they at least try to attempt to trade back … a real attempt as there are several players they could target towards the end of the 1st that would give them near equal value and fill a void while still picking up an extra needed pick !

  • Douglas Andrews

    A FA pickup would be nice because outside of Ike, Allen, and Gay we really don’t have any proven CB’s. We have to hit on at least one maybe two CB’s in this years draft. But I agree a FA that can come in and play would be great for us.

  • shawn

    problem is, i dont see many that are within our reach possibly shields ?? think best bet is to hit the draft hard both the next 2 years and hopefully we are not too unlucky would be awesome if we hit 2 for 2 this year on CBs plus a FS to boot !

  • shawn

    i thought they actually slightly overpaid back then, but boy did they hit that one right … i dont care what PFF says he’s elite and damn if he was a half inch inside he would have had one of the greatest plays in NFL history, that we would be talking about right up there with the immaculate reception …. missed it by “that” much !

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    There are several decent, but unspectacular, receivers that will be available just like Sanders. It would be nice to have continuity and keep Sanders, but only at a very reasonable price. Ultimately, the Steelers need to get 1 of the guys available for something in the $2-3.5M/year range.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Glad they passed on Delmas he looks like damaged goods. Also this is the first time i’ve heard Colbert say that the Steelers might be a player in FA. Maybe he has something up his sleeve?

  • cencalsteeler

    Of course there is a correlation between a pass rush and cover time for dbs. But, you can’t blame the pass rush on Ike’s poor tackling skills or inability to catch a ball.

  • cencalsteeler

    With all due respect Douglas, if you want to contend for championships and make playoff runs, we can’t afford to “probably squeak by” or “be okay at the DB situation.” This is a business, and if we want to hoist the Lombardi anytime soon, we can not afford to wear our hearts on our sleeves.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Understand your point but I’m not one of those guys you mentioned. I only say keep Ike for one more year because we have zero depth behind Allen and Gay if Ike is cut (A Blake I Green C Brown) all these guys are ST guys only. Gotta make this a good draft with 1-2 CB that can stick. We missed on C Brown and T Hawthorne. If either of those guys worked out well, I’d be all for letting Ike go this year. As far as hoisting the Lombardi trophy remember we did that with an O Line including D Stapleton and C Kemoeatu and a DB B Mcfadden.

  • cencalsteeler

    Agree. The question is, do you believe Ike would sign for a year knowing that he is no longer a starter and only on the team for depth? I say cut ties, sign a FA, and be aggressive at that position in the draft.

  • Steve

    You are right about that. That was a screwy play but it almost worked out. AB is a excellent player and Lee is very much like AB, fast, jukes well and has another gear. Have always watched College ball and Lee caught my eye in the Arizona game. Reminded me of Lynn Swann when he played at USC, Scored 4 different ways in one game, unbelieveable.

  • Douglas Andrews

    With the Salary cap increasing maybe we can get a solid FA CB. I also think Ike’s future might rest with who the Steelers decide to draft. If we go CB in the first round Ike may find himself out of a job. BTW I’m partial to the Gilbert Kid from Okla State if we can pick him up and a quality FA then I’d say thanks for the memories Ike but we gotta move on.

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