In what is perhaps the least surprising news this free agency period related to the Pittsburgh Steelers, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will sign with another team other than the Steelers, according to Adam Schefter.
That team is the Denver Broncos, who lost Eric Decker to the New York Jets earlier in the past week. While Schefter says that the Broncos are expected to sign him, however, it should be noted that according to Aaron Wilson, he remains in Kansas City for tonight.
Sanders, the Steelers’ third-round draft pick in 2010, had his best professional season last year as a regular starter for the first time in his career.
But according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers never even made the four-year wide receiver an offer to stay with the team that drafted him.
Last season, as a restricted free agent, the Steelers gave an original-round tender on him, and thought of him enough that when the New England Patriots signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet, they matched the offer
As a result, they turned down a third-round pick they could have used to draft Shamarko Thomas (or somebody else) last year, instead of trading away their third-round pick for this draft.
Though Sanders posted career-bests in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, he also posted a career-low 11 yards per reception last season. In addition, according to Pro Football Focus, his six touchdowns were nearly matched by the five interceptions thrown when he was targeted.
The Steelers intend to address the wide receiver position in the early rounds of the upcoming draft, and they also expect to see a substantial increase in the playing time and production out of second-year wide receiver Markus Wheaton.
It wouldn’t be the first time a second-year receiver broke out big after a rookie campaign of inactivity, of course. Antonio Brown had a 1000-yard season in his second year after seeing little playing time the year before.
Meanwhile, a re-signing of Jerricho Cotchery is anticipated to take place any day now. He was reportedly on board a Steelers-sponsored cruise over the past few days. That can probably be taken as a good sign.