Between losing Emmanuel Sanders to the New England Patriots now for a third round pick or losing him to free agency and no compensation next season, the Pittsburgh Steelers prefer simply not matching the offer sheet given to him by the Pats and secure at least something out of losing another wide receiver, although they still have a day to think it through.
Ben Roethlisberger, who has been throwing to Sanders over the last three seasons, has been lobbying his head coach, Mike Tomlin, to match the offer from the Patrtios, which stands at one year, $2.5 million. It’s not something the Steelers can’t afford, but they do believe Sanders, just like Wallace, will opt for a big money offer next season once he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and the Steelers will be left with nothing, instead of a third round pick.
The wide receivers situation isn’t exactly flourishing for the Steelers, who have turned into a much more pass-happy team over the last few years. With Wallace gone, Sanders was designated to be promoted to the #2 receiver, playing opposite Antonio Brown, who was third last season in total reception yards behind Wallace and Heath Miller. Beyond Sanders, the next most productive wideout was Jerricho Cotchery, who caught 17 passes for 205 yards.
With no more attractive options left in free agency and a receiving core that beyond Brown offers the likes of Cotchery and Plaxico Burress, there’s a good chance we’ll see the Steelers select a wide receiver with one of their first or second round picks, unless they want to make it a very frustrating season for Ben Roethlisberger behind center, or simply go back to a more run-oriented offense, led by Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman.