Williamson on Sanders offer sheet
April, 13, 2013
"In the end, I feel like the Steelers lose either way and the Patriots win either way," Williamson told host Stan Savran.
Williamson touched on how Sanders played two-thirds of his snaps in the slot for the Steelers, but that's not necessarily where the Patriots would line him up on a majority of snaps. That's part of what makes the offer sheet intriguing.
As for the Steelers potentially matching the offer sheet, Williamson said it will speak volumes about how the team views itself.
"We know the Patriots think of themselves as a contender. Clearly, in my opinion, the Patriots and Broncos are ahead of everybody else in the AFC by a substantial margin, and Baltimore is probably third still. Pittsburgh, I don't think, is in that top echelon," Williamson said.
"But I think the AFC is very weak [so] I wouldn't blame [general manager] Kevin [Colbert] and Co. at all if they said 'we have as good a chance as anyone to go to the playoffs next year. We still have Ben. We can't allow two starting receivers to leave in the same year and put that much on Ben, and Antonio Brown and [Jerricho] Cotchery and [Plaxico] Burress and a draft pick or two.' ...
"I think if they let him go, they consider themselves a bit of a rebuilder. If they keep him, then they look at themselves as a bit of a contender. You can only [sit] on the fence for so long. It's a delicate balance. ... In a way, you don't win either way."
patriot sports writer Mike Reiss has a opposing view of Pittsburgh sports writer Ed Bouchette regarding Sanders.
If I'm Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, I'm matching the offer sheet to restricted free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders. While $2.5 million is more than the club hoped to pay Sanders, who was tendered at $1.3 million, it's still reasonable for a projected top-2 or top-3 receiver. In retrospect, the Steelers could have ensured Sanders would be with them by tendering him at $2 million, which was the second-round level, as it's unlikely the Patriots would have submitted an offer sheet in that scenario. But instead the salary-cap strapped Steelers left themselves at risk of losing Sanders, which when considering Mike Wallace was unlikely to return, seems like a miscalculation even given their recent impressive history of drafting and developing at the position. That's why I'd absorb the pay boost and keep Sanders around even if he ultimately departs next year as an unrestricted free agent.
Some of you are suggesting Breaston is an adequate replacement for Sanders, and would come cheaper. If Sanders=Breaston, then why would NE make the offer to Sanders, for potentially more than they would have to pay Breaston?
On the Steelers: Keeping Sanders, not letting him go, would be the real gamble
April 14, 2013 12:13 am
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Presented with the decision the Steelers must make on Emmanuel Sanders by midnight tonight, Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney had to have made two lists, just like the rest of us when faced with such a task.
On one list, they would write down the reasons to match New England's reported offer to Sanders of $2.5 million for one season and keep him. The second would contain reasons to let him go and receive the Patriots' third-round choice in this month's draft, No. 91 overall.
Surely that second list would be much longer and contain more compelling reasons to persuade them to pass and take the pick. It's almost a no-brainer, yet other factors could be at work here, including a coaching staff that went 8-8 last season and might be worried about how another year out of the playoffs could erode job security.
Sanders is a nice little receiver, a young player with good hands, quickness and the ability to gain chunks of yards after he catches the football. He is projected to replace Mike Wallace as their starting split end this season. Obviously, the Patriots think enough of him to gamble a third-round pick and a one-year deal as they do all they can to win now in Tom Brady's golden years.
Let's say the Steelers matched and kept him for 2013. It would mean they'd want to keep him long-term as well. They can then try to negotiate a multiple-year contract with Sanders. But what if he pulls a Mike Wallace and no matter what they offer, he rejects? Are they willing to pay him more than Antonio Brown? Probably not, and Sanders probably would opt to gamble on free agency in 2014, just like Wallace.
In essence, they would go through another season with a lame-duck starter at wide receiver, and they would have thrown away the chance to acquire a 2013 third-round pick for him (if he joins the Patriots, the Steelers likely would pick up a third-round compensatory pick in 2014).
Also, while they do have room under the salary cap to cover that $2.5 million -- they need only about $1.2 million above the $1.323 million they already are committed to him -- it would bring them within about $700,000 of their cap limit. They will clear $5.5 million more in cap space in June because of their release of Willie Colon, but they will need much of that to sign their rookie draft picks.
Matching the Sanders deal might preclude them from signing, say, Ahmad Bradshaw. Or it might force them to restructure a contract they did not want to redo, that of Troy Polamalu, and push even more cap accounting into future years. By passing on Sanders, they would pick up about $900,000 more in cap space immediately, giving them more than enough to sign another veteran or two in free agency before June.
If the Steelers really wanted to pay Sanders that kind of money, they could have put a second-round tender on him, which would have cost them $2.023 million. Perhaps they felt Sanders was not worth that much.
Put it this way, if another receiver with Emmanuel Sanders' ability was on another team and he was a restricted free agent with a third-round tender, would the Steelers give up a third-rounder for him? Not on your life. Would they trade a third-rounder for a receiver of Sanders' ability? No.
So, why would they give up a third-rounder to keep him?
This team is in transition, no matter what Kevin Colbert says, and it needs to remake its wide receiving corps. They planned to draft a wide receiver anyway, perhaps even high; they can let Sanders go and draft two of them.
This is a draft that supposedly is not impressive at the top but deep, which means those third-round picks are more valuable this year than they were last year. They have other pressing needs besides wide receiver, like running back, linebackers and safeties. That extra third-rounder would come in handy to address all.
Not only that, but that third-round pick will average under $700,000 a year for four years, all in the Steelers' control with no RFA after three as was the case with Sanders. How's that for more cap relief?
Steelers fans know the more recent history of the team finding wide receivers in the third round and later, but here's a quick review: Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown ... Emmanuel Sanders. There's also an occasional Willie Reid.
It would be a gamble, letting Sanders go and hoping to find his replacement in the draft. It would be a bigger one to keep him.
I don't think that is a danger, first because I don't think Sanders has a long enough history of excellence to get by doing that. He has to have a very good or big year to make himself eligible for a good contract as a free agent, whereas I think Wallace felt he already had done enough in prior years, to ensure he would get "paid."
I also don't think that Sanders is that type of personality, even if he could get by with that. Just my opinion.
Steelers have done well drafting WRs recently by getting Wallace, Brown and Sanders, but who knows, is that a fluke, or can the Steelers afford to cast off a good young receiver and rest assured thay will find another, just as good in the draft? I take a "bird in the hand, etc."philosophy on this. I don't think their recent good drafts of wrs should make them overconfident about getting a replacement. I'd rather see them draft a running back, that they think could play right away, then a wide receiver. RB is a more instinctive position, whereas wide receiver is position that I think takes more time to develop, especially in terms of chemistry between QB and WR.
I also don't agree with Bouchette's point about if Sanders was on another team, would they give up a 3rd round for him etc.? Steelers always place a higher value on players they have drafted and been in the system, then they do a comparable player from another team. That is sort of why they bring back players like Gay and Spaeth. They know them.