Emmanuel Sanders’ time with Steelers might end soon as free agency looms
Steelers Notebook: Sanders’ time with Steelers might end soon as free agency looms
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Emmanuel Sanders has reached a lot of benchmarks this season that bode well for someone entering unrestricted free agency. He has posted career highs for yardage and touchdowns in a season and has an outside chance to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
Sanders also has had some notable gaffes, including two drops in the past two weeks in crucial situations that might have altered the course of close losses to Baltimore and Miami.
He is playing this season on a $2.5 million, one-year contract after the Steelers matched the offer sheet Sanders signed with the New England Patriots in the spring. He will be looking for a long-term contract as an unrestricted free agent, and he knows his time with the Steelers might be coming to an end.
“You try not to think about it,” Sanders said. “I’m just trying to finish this season strong and let the chips fall where they may next year. There’s a lot of gray area next to my name, a lot of question marks next to my name. Honestly, I can’t wait until they get answered. If I’m here, I’m here. If I’m not, for the next three weeks I’m going to try to chill with these guys and appreciate being around the Steelers facility.”
Keeping Sanders is a luxury the Steelers most likely cannot afford. They have Antonio Brown signed to a long-term contract and in April they invested a third-round pick in Markus Wheaton, who is waiting in the wings for a more prominent role in the offense.
Sanders is enjoying his most productive season as a pro. He has 661 yards and five touchdowns with three games remaining. His previous highs were 626 yards and two touchdowns.
“Am I happy about that? Yeah, I guess, but my goal coming into this season was 1,000 yards and I haven’t accomplished that yet,” Sanders said. “I expected myself to hit that mark because last year I was a No. 3 [receiver] and this year I’m a No. 2. I never take it for granted. But I expected that and I expect even more out of myself. One thousand yards is my next goal.”
Left tackle belongs to Beachum
Mike Adams did well in his first start at left tackle since getting demoted after the fourth game this season, but if Kelvin Beachum is healthy the job at left tackle is his the rest of this season.
“I would think he earned the right to be in there right now,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “He played at a pretty high level for us while he was in there against good competition. I think he’s earned every right, as much as anyone else has, to be in there and play.”
Beachum started eight consecutive games at left tackle before getting injured late in the Baltimore game. He sat out the Miami game, but is expected to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beachum is an example of how quality players can be found in the late rounds of the draft. He was a seventh-round selection in 2012 while Adams was selected in the second.
“I think he’s got a great mindset,” Haley said. “He carries a chip on his shoulder. I’ve seen guys like Curtis Martin carry a chip on their shoulder all the way to the Hall of Fame. Getting drafted where they got drafted, whatever they can use to motivate. He’s that type of kid. He’s a mentally tough guy who carries a chip on his shoulder who’s been told he’s not good enough to do different things, and yet he tries to prove everyone wrong and has to this point. I just love having him on our side. He’s great to work with.”
No fine for Clark
Safety Ryan Clark was not fined for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Miami running back Daniel Thomas. Clark said it was the fourth or fifth time he has been whistled for that kind of personal foul, then not getting a fine, which, he said, vindicated those hits as legal.
“I aimed for his waist,” Clark said. “Honest, I didn’t want to shoot his knees. I felt like if I hit him in his waist or his mid-section it would still be a good hit, so that’s what I did.”
Clark said the official explained to him that “when he caught it, he ducked his head, and his head hit you” and that was a penalty.
“It’s reputation a lot, too,” he said of the flags. “I’ve been doing my best to stay out of those situations. I feel like I’ve done a good job.”
Defensive end Brett Keisel (foot), nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) and safety Troy Polamalu (shoulder) did not practice Thursday. Sanders was a limited participant with a foot injury. All others nursing injuries went through a full practice.
good thing we didnt take the 3rd rounder for him.
hopefully beachum will keep us from drafting a LT.
amazing the writer actually called sanders a luxury. I'm not quite sure how he defines that word. having megatron would be a luxury. having a wes welker would be a luxury. Having Hines Ward was a luxury. Having a #2 that doesn't catch'em when it counts and cost 2.5 mil isn't a luxury. I was amazed when the pats tendered the offer. I was furious when the steelers panicked and matched it. They don't usually make mistakes like that. I think this was one of those rare occasions.
let him go.
Hall of Famer
I think keeping Sanders this year was the right thing to do. Next year, Wheaton should be able to come in and perform and hopefully Cotchery will still be around. Perhaps there will be a decent pick in the draft as well?
Originally Posted by Sugar
i disagree. shamarko thomas could have been drafted with the 3rd from new england last year and we would still have our 3rd this year.
i dont recall many steelers fans wanting to keep sanders instead of receive the draft pick. he was viewed by many to be nothing more than an average wr that could easily be replaced. he is having a nice year for a #2 but am not sure that cotch couldnt have slid in there and done as well. now we're gonna have to try to sign cotch and either over pay sanders or watch him walk and use a draft pick on a wr to replace him. this in a year that we dont have our 3rd and have a good chance tomlins dumbass move will cost us another one.
I am "sure" very sure Cotch could EASILY replace Sanders.
Originally Posted by squidkid
Originally Posted by Sugar
Calling it a mistake now is Monday Morning QB'g. Obviously, a 3rd round pick would have been nice, but going into the season (with Heath coming off ACL), and Cotch (a proven #3, but honestly someone who probably wouldn't be that good as a #2), and a rookie (which turned out to be Wheaton), wouldn't inspire confidence. What if this season had turned out different (i.e. in the thick of it), but were hamstrung by our lack of receiving? People would be all over management for letting a young guy like Sanders walk.
true, but there were lots of knowledgeable fans that wanted the draft pick when it was available
Originally Posted by Shoe
Calling it a mistake now is Monday Morning QB'g. Obviously, a 3rd round pick would have been nice, but going into the season (with Heath coming off ACL), and Cotch (a proven #3, but honestly someone who probably wouldn't be that good as a #2), and a rookie (which turned out to be Wheaton), wouldn't inspire confidence. What if this season had turned out different (i.e. in the thick of it), but were hamstrung by our lack of receiving? People would be all over management for letting a young guy like Sanders walk.[/QUOTE
Keeping Sanders was the right thing to do...Ben wanted him to stay and I'm not convinced that taking weapons away from your offense is the best thing to do...
It was neither panic nor dumb...