The Pittsburgh Steelers took a risk last season by retaining WR Emmanuel Sanders after the New England Patriots sought interest in the former 3rd rounder. That risk failed to pay any dividends in 2013, and based on recent comments from GM Kevin Colbert and other roster circumstances, Sanders will probably not return as a Steeler for the 2014 season.
Gerry Dulac from the PPG took to some questions on Thursday afternoon, and one of them dealt with how the Steelers would approach their receiving core this offseason. Dulac speculated that the Steelers were going to let Sanders walk and pursue other teams because of their publicly known interest in drafting a tall receiver in this year’s draft.
True, a tall and fast receiver would be the favorite to compete for the #2 slot in the depth chart. Markus Wheaton should (SHOULD) get a much bigger look this training camp, and one would expect some heated competition if the Steelers draft the receiver they want. Jerricho Cotchery should return as the dependable 3rd or 4th option for Big Ben. The pieces are in place for good solid targets for Roethlisberger, and it looks like that may not include Sanders.
Is it really such a surprise? Sanders has been underwhelming for three seasons prior to 2013, and lacked any upswing for coaches and fans to look forward to the following seasons. Sanders did have a better season in 2013, but still failed to impress and solidify his spot as the #2 receiver – especially it being a contract year. Grant it, Sanders nabbed 67 catches for 740 yards and 6 touchdowns. But, it was his inconsistent route running, the too frequent miscommunication between he and his quarterback (mid way through 2013 Sanders only had 31 catches in 55 targets), the injuries, and the dropped passes. God, the drops. Sanders had actually one of the lower drop rates in the league during 2013. It’s just that those drops came at the worst time possible for his team.
It may appear that I don’t have a lot of love for Sanders. Quite frankly, I don’t. Maybe it’s my overall distaste for the Young Money Crew from the very beginning. The high expectations and the minimum reward in return. Antonio Brown was the only one to emerge from the ashes of that dumpster fire of a situation two years ago (thank God). Sanders is yet just another disappointment – high promise but coming up short.
The Steelers should have taken the compensatory pick from the Patriots last season when they wanted to sign him for a one year deal. HIndsight is always 20/20. Hopefully the Steelers have gained some wisdom and can see that promise for the future at wide receiver lies within the draft and with other players currently on the roster.
Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers