Absent a long-term deal, Steelers will regret matching Sanders offer

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In the end, the 50 that wanted to keep receiver Emmanuel Sanders outweighed the 50 that didn’t.

The 50 that lost likely will be saying “I told you so” in less than a year.

With a one-year, $2.5 million deal, Sanders is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March 2014.  And with the Steelers unlikely to use the franchise tag (after all, they didn’t use it to keep Mike Wallace around), Sanders will head to market barring a long-term deal.

If Sanders makes it to the open market, the Patriots likely will be given the first crack at signing him, thanks to the fact that the Pats helped him get a $1.2 million raise for 2013.  The Steelers, in turn, will have nothing if Sanders leaves.

Sure, his departure will factor in to the complex formula for determining compensatory draft picks in 2015.  But the Steelers could have had the 91st overall pick in the draft now, signing the player to a four-year deal that would have cost roughly the same as one more year with Sanders.

The benefit for the Steelers is that the matching of the offer puts Sanders under contract for 2013, which means he won’t be able to avoid mandatory minicamp or training camp without incurring potential fines.  Last year, Wallace didn’t sign his tender and thus wasn’t under contract, which translated to a holdout that lasted deep into August.

In theory, the Steelers now have the exclusive ability through next March to try to sign him to a long-term deal.  And that’s the real question we have moving forward.  In deciding to match the offer, did the Steelers also decide to take all reasonable steps to keep Sanders over the long haul?  If so — and if they get him signed — then the decision to match won’t be as bad as if the Steelers view it as a one-more-year move.

The Patriots will now be left to wonder whether they should have put some more money into the offer, and precisely how much more would have scared the Steelers away.  More importantly, the Pats now need to look elsewhere for help at receiver.

42 responses to “Absent a long-term deal, Steelers will regret matching Sanders offer

  1. The Patriots have significant issues at WR right now. Do they turn to the Victor Cruz sweepstakes?

    Almost definite is that they’re drafting a WR with their first pick. Patterson, Austin, Allen, Hunter or Hopkins.

  2. Well it’s only a million dollars and change for the decision makers to split up and reimburse so that they can get that cap space back.

    Here’s the hat now it fill it up.

  3. Florio: u r just trying to backtrack, because the steelers, didn’t take your ADVICE, Steelers will have cap space jun 1, I’m sure a long term deal is in the works, I’m shocked that with your INSIGHT, your not a GM

  4. Depends on the compensatory pick if they lose sanders to free agency next season. The compensatory pick could be as high as a 3rd round pick.

  5. I like this kid, but enough with the Sanders articles already. Almost as many articles as the Flacco signing got, or as many articles last season about how Ray Rice needed to get more carries.

  6. Just proves how inept Colbert truly is at running a franchise. You think Ozzie would’ve turned down the pick for a 3rd tier receiver like Sanders?


  7. Roethlisberger got what he wanted. Like he always does. He just doesn’t take no for an answer.

  8. Steelers decision making personnel are a inept. I am loving the total destruction of this organization, move by move.

  9. Pats could have put more money into the offer, but they took a calculated risk. Steelers prob could have tendered Sanders at the 2nd rnd level for 2 mil, instead of 1.3, where nobody would have signed him to an offer sheet. Now, they have to pay him 2.5. The Pats essentially got him a raise. Why would he now sign an extension with the team that lowballed him, instead of testing the waters next yr.

    Patfs need WR help, but the X position is the 4th option in that offense. They can still draft someone, bring back Lloyd on the cheap, or rely on Jones.

  10. Or, we can just take a look at their trophy case jammed with Lombardi’s and assume they know what they’re doing.

  11. You really don’t have to defend yourself and your position on the Steelers and this down the depth chart WR because they matched. No one is right all the time. But time will always tell who was.

  12. A starting WR for a 3rd rounder? Sure. A starter tendered for 1 year at $2.5 mil? Sure.

    Scream “spygate” all you want, but I for one give the Patriots all the kudos in the world for being mercenary, cold-blooded SOB’s who play the game of football like it was a shooting war instead. The Jake Ballard signing comes to mind.

  13. The way I see it is the Patriots didn’t lose at all in this whole Sanders saga. If they signed him they got a good WR, if not then they keep their 3rd round draft pick and can use that to draft a good player or trade it to acquire more picks. Now the Steelers on the other hand just retained a player who is costing more than they would have wanted for a possible one year rental. Now the other problem arises when it comes time to sign their own draft picks. Will they have enough money/cap to even be able to do that? The Steelers were better off letting him go, but hey as long as Ben is happy right?

  14. I disagree with this move. The key to the Steelers is — and always had been under Roethlisberger — the defense.

    As long as Roethlisberger is quarterback the Steelers will finish in the bottom third of the league in scoring. They could have brought in T.O., Randy Moss or even brought back Hines Ward instead of Sanders and still finished in the bottom third in the league in scoring.

    But if the Steelers defense slips from number one in the entire league to even number two they will be lucky to get four wins. Seriously.

  15. Outside of Ben Roethlisberger, I doubt many Steelers have any clue their value to the team. Sanders agent surely advised him the smart thing was to sign the Pats offer and get a raise. He’ll never get every last dollar in PGH, but they have at least shown they want him, which he may not have felt before. We’ll all be watching the draft to see who’s still available with the 91st pick.

  16. Sucks for both teams. Pats lose out on an average reciever that would have improved their unit, and the Steelers overpaid for him. How ironic. What could be better.

  17. I cannot figure out if Florio writes this stuff to create discussion, or if he actually believes it. The latter is hard to imagine. Now, with all that has been said by so many over the last few months about the Steelers, please pay attention: If the “five across the front” start 14-16 games, Pgh will return to playoffs for another shot at #7. All the rest of so-called problems will be forgotten. It is just that simple.

  18. Bengals will win the afc north this year. Ravens are missing the leadership and the Steelers are falling apart. Not to mention, James Harrison will be a Bengal, taking away one of their best players. WHO DEY

  19. Gotta give the front office credit , at least they
    put a stop to the bleeding for now ! A lot more
    problems to address ! Won’t be easy !

  20. This will end of up being a long term deal for Sanders and I’m just fine with that. Find Mike Wallaces replacement in the draft and the Steelers are back in Business. So much for the people who said the steelers didnt have enough to match the patriots. They look pretty silly now. The steelers won’t regret this move at all.

  21. 2.5 mil isnt that much. and do you really want to have 2 rookie WR. you dont want to have 2 wide recievers learning and starting. we probably will still draft a 2nd receiver anyways prob late round for practice squad. but know it can be a developmental pick, instead of using 2 pick within the first 3 rounds on a wr.we will get a 3rd round pick back for compensatory. the steelers will have money after june from the colon release as a poster had posted before. i think a 1 year rental on sanders to see if he gets over the dropsies is also prudent, keeping sanders allows that only need 1 reciever to get on the same page with Ben.

  22. Cheer up Steelheads. You’ll get 16 games out of Sanders which is all you’ll will need for the next 24 years! #historyrepeats

  23. Steelers continuing with their cap mismanagement, and all around team mismanagement. Colbert is out of his league. Just got strongarmed into giving an extra mil to an unproven WR3. Dont worry, just restructure 4 or 5 more old vets and pad it onto 2014 and 2015 again; you’ll only be 25 million over the cap – again.

    This dude will give you a Wallace type of effort (after you lowballed him at 1.3 mil then went up to 2.5 mil what do you expect) then walk in FA after putting up a few decent numbers. You’ll get to say “welp at least we gave in to our QB’s demands”

  24. If they let Sanders get to Free Agency in 2014 this makes no sence..Still rather have had that 3rd round pick

  25. Ok to good keep but a 3rd rounder is not only a gamble but unproven whereas with E Money Bags “rip” you know what your getting. a guy with soft hands who is always hurt drops the ball running with it and has bad feet, literally. but only having plax, cotch, and A.B is not enough for Benny with Heeeeeath out for a minute and the departure of Mickey wallace. but then again colby did resign Matt Spaeth. great move…..

  26. How can this be bad for the Steelers? They kept a WR who has talent and knows their system for only $2.5MM. That’s peanuts in today’s NFL. If he performs, they either pay him next year or let him walk (like they did w/Wallace). If he doesn’t perform, they let him walk and lose nothing. Getting a late #3 (which is darn near a #4 in reality after the 3rd RD compensatory picks), from NE is a total hit-or-miss proposition. I really don’t think there was any genius on NE’s part either. They took a shot at a WR with some high-side potential and PITT matched. Big whoop.

  27. To those who say this is because Ben whined and lobbied tto get him back:

    Recall that last summer Ben was telling the Steelers to pay Mike Wallace. How’d that work out?

  28. Are the Monday censors letting football comments through on this article? The Sunday night censors … not so much. But I’m glad you fixed this problem by threatening to delete comments altogether, Florio. Yeah, we’re the source of all your troubles.

  29. melkipershero says:

    The Pats have 2 decent tight ends to make up for the lack of wrs.


    Three if Ballard is ready to go.

  30. If Sanders wants to put up big numbers so he can leave in free agency, that doesn’t do anything but help this year. If he has a crap season, it drives down his price to stay. A long term deal would be puzzling, unless the negotiation with the Pats told him exactly what his market was and he keeps the numbers down in a reasonable range. 4 years, $12 million wouldn’t be horrible, as long as there was a clause for injury in there.

    The major concern is a running back, help in the secondary, and youth in the linebacking corp.

  31. 4 yrs for 12 mil?!? Amendola had similar stats to Sanders last yr, you could play the ‘injury prone’ card for both, and Sanders is a yr younger. Amendola got 5 yrs 31 mil. That’s the starting pt.

    Yes, 2.5 mil is not a lot for a player of Sander’s caliber. Problem is, now the steelers only have 700k under the cap. They’ll get 5.1 more when Colon comes off the books. That should take care of the rookie pool. They still need a RB, amongst other things. They could have tendered Sanders at the 2nd round level for 2 mil. Now they have to pay him 2.5 and he’ll prob walk after the season because the steelers can’t pay him, without getting a 3rd in return(if you think you’ll get a comp 3rd for him, you’re nuts). I’ll admit I wanted him on the Pats, but the steelers blew this on a number of levels, unless Sanders decides he wants to stay and takes a hometown discount.

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