The Pittsburgh Steelers rescued wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders from the nefarious clutches of the New England Patriots by matching their offer sheet late Sunday night. By tendering Sanders an additional $1.2 million on top of the $1.3 they already offered, the Black and Gold avoid losing what is expected to be their #2 receiver to a hated conference rival. They also roll the dice in the sense that had they let Sanders go, they would’ve received the Patriots’ third round pick in this year’s draft. Manny will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and with his agent already making noise about wanting a decent chunk of change in order to sign a long term deal, it’s entirely possible the Steelers will lose him next winter and get next to nothing in return.
The Sanders Saga has been one of the more mystifying developments of this off-season. There has been an inordinate amount of discussion devoted to a player 90% of football fans have probably never heard of, most of it driven by muckraker Mike Florio over at ProFootballTalk. Florio is a noted Steeler hater so it’s not surprising he gleefully chronicles their every move looking for barbs to throw but over the past week he’s followed the Sanders Saga like it’s Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. While I get that the Patriots and Steelers are two of the most popular fanbases and popularity = clicks, no less than seven posts on a guy who’s caught a grand total of five touchdowns seems ludicrous.
By the way, I have a correction to make on my original Sanders post from a few days ago. The $2.5 million in cap room PFT listed the Steelers having left was as of the current date. It doesn’t take into account the $5 million in space they’ll get when Willie Colon‘s salary comes off the books on June 1st. So while giving another million to Sanders hurts their ability to add an Ahmad Bradshaw or linebacker depth, they should be in good shape to sign all their draft picks.
Of course the burning question is did the Steelers do right by retaining Sanders? I was torn a few days ago but the more I think about it, it was the right move to make. I’m amazed a whopping 57% of fair-weather yinzers voted in a P-G poll to let him go. I’m even more amazed by the people calling into talk radio bemoaning Kevin Colbert turning down a third round pick in exchange for him. Since when did third round picks turn into precious gold?
Do the names Willie Reid or Dallas Baker ring any bells? How about Limas Sweed? Sweed should be familiar if only because Sanders had a couple Sweed-like moments last season when he dropped a pass then feigned injury to cover for his blunder. However my point is, a third round pick (91st overall) is not exactly a can’t miss prospect. For comparison purposes, last year’s 91st pick was an OT who didn’t see the field last year. Two years ago, it was a linebacker who has started 13 games in two season and has yet to record a sack. With the 91st pick last year, the Steelers could’ve gotten a fine young receiver like the Colts’ TY Hilton (taken one pick later) or they could’ve gotten a guy like Carolina’s Joe Adams (taken nine picks later) who made one whole catch all season.
Point is, the NFL draft isn’t an exact science. The Steelers could’ve found a receiver every bit the equal of Sanders. They also could’ve wasted the pick on yet another shitbum. Furthermore, this team has a number of holes that need filled at OLB, ILB, CB, RB and WR. Subtract Sanders and you almost have to draft at least two wide receivers, burning a pick that might be better spent addressing another position. They might still take two young wide outs but at least now there is some flexibility.
Whether Sanders gets his act together and fulfills some of the potential we saw his rookie year when people forget he looked like the emerging star until Antonio Brown broke through during the post-season remains to be seen. At this point, it’s a gamble the Steelers had to take.
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The New England Patriots aren’t satisfied with stealing AFC Championship games from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now they’re out to steal our players. After cutting ties with Wes Welker earlier this off-season, the Fighting Belicheats have been looking everywhere for weapons to add to Tom Brady‘s arsenal. Evidently they found one in wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
New England signed Manny to one year $2.5 million offer sheet yesterday afternoon. Since Sanders is a restricted free agent, the Steelers now have five days to match their offer or else Sanders becomes Patriots’ property in exchange for their third round pick in the upcoming draft. Since the Steelers have already tendered him $1.3 million, they actually only need to offer another $1.2 million to keep him. Early word from ESPN No-Nothing Ed Werder is the Steelers are expected to match.
At this point, it seems like the Steelers are in a lose-lose situation either way.
If they don’t match, Antonio Brown will be the last member of Young Money left standing. While breaking up that group of underachieving punks isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does leave the team’s wide receiving corps dangerously thin. Subtract Manny and our current depth chart looks like this: AB and Jerricho Cotchery starting with Plaxico Burress playing the slot. Sure Sanders had his problems last season but that’s the kind of line-up nightmares are made of. If we lose Sanders, the Steelers will have to use one of their first two picks in the upcoming draft on a wide out.
If they do match, well, they still need to take a wide receiver. But before they can sign any of this year’s draft picks, they’ll have some work to do to get under the salary cap. According to ProFootballTalk, the Steelers are currently a measly $2.5 million under the cap. Giving Sanders another million plus means they’ll need to clear another chunk of space in order to sign their picks.
$2.5 million under the cap. Seriously, I can’t get over that number. Where the bloody blue hell is all their money going? Don’t say Ben because the Patriots have Tom Brady and they’re still a whopping $10 million under the cap. We haven’t signed a single name free agent. We let Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace walk away. We cut James Harrison and re-worked a bunch of other high priced contracts. I could see if this was a team coming off a Super Bowl victory but the Steelers got Tebow’d out of the playoffs two years ago and went 8-8 last year. Why are they paying a bunch of mediocre shitbums all of this money?
What the f*%k is this team doing?
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About a month ago, news surfaced that Mike Wallace was not pleased with the Pittsburgh Steelers one year tender offer. Word was he was prepared to sit out “until he has to” come back, whatever that means. Thus far his posturing hasn’t been a big deal because there was no football for him to miss. However, the Steelers have two full-roster OTA sessions scheduled this month and it appears Wallace will not be attendance for either.
Which is logical considering the greedy bastard still hasn’t signed his tender.
I have no idea what Wallace is thinking. Does he think the Steelers have forgotten about him? General Manager Kevin Colbert has said repeatedly he wants to keep him here for a very long time. Does he think sitting out will force the Steelers hand? I guess he’s never heard the saying it’s hard to miss you when you’re not here.
Seriously, what exactly is his play here? He has ZERO leverage. The restricted free agency period has passed so he can’t negotiate with other teams. Not that any teams were interested in his insane Larry Fitz-level asking price. He HAS to play for the Steelers this season for the $3 million they tendered him. This isn’t even up for discussion.
Wallace needs to play at least eight games in order to qualify for unrestricted free agency next season. Even if he does fulfill the obligation, the Steelers can tag him and keep him under a one year contract in perpetuity. This is how the NFL works. This is the deal his union agreed to. I can’t stand when players whine and complain and hold out when they’re tendered and/or tagged. THE NFLPA AGREED TO THESE CONDITIONS. If you don’t like it, take it up with Dee Smith and the other boneheads who run your union. You’re not Curt Flood.
So instead of signing his tender, reporting to OTAs and playing out his contractual obligations to the Steelers, he’s sitting home pouting because they aren’t giving him the long-term deal wants. Oh boo hoo. First off, the Steelers are NEVER going to give you Larry Fitz money because you’re not Larry Fitz. Larry Fitz doesn’t have zero 100 yard receiving games the entire second half of the season then catch 3 balls for 23 pathetic yards in the playoff loss to Denver. The Steelers will give Wallace a fair contract if he comes back to reality but first they have other worries like signing their first round draft pick. The Steelers are still right up against the salary cap so they may not even be able to negotiate a long-term contract extension right now.
Holding out is pretty much the worst option available. By holding out, Wallace only shows he’s self-centered pain in the ass. Putting yourself ahead of the team is only going to piss off Steeler management, who hate dealing with diva receivers as it is. If Wallace takes this to Defcon-4 by refusing to report to training camp, well, I wouldn’t blame the Steelers if they followed the path the Chargers took with Vincent Jackson last season and put him on the roster exempt list thereby suspending him for three games when he finally does sign his tender. I’m not really worried about Wallace picking up Todd Haley’s new offense because it’s not terribly complicated to run in a straight line as fast as you can.
Whatever scenario comes to pass, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine Mike Wallace will still be wearing the Black and Gold in 2013.
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Our long national nightmare is over. Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley have spoken!
One can only speculate what they said. It appears no steel chairs were involved so that’s good. Of course, we’ll see how cordial they remain after Ben holds on to the ball for twenty-five minutes and takes a drive killing sack only to be greeted on the sideline by Haley threatening to turn his boot sideways and stick it straight up his candy-ass. For now, however, all is good in Steeler Nation.
Although it may not be for long. The Pittsburgh Steelers announced yet another deal restructuring, this time with offensive tackle Willie Colon. The overpaid fatass’s new deal reduces his cap hit by roughly half, which brings the Steelers ever so closer to being under the salary cap. As has been discussed, the Steelers went into this off-season roughly $25 million over the cap and had to clear that salary by the start of the 2012 NFL season in early March. With Colon’s reworked contract, the team is now only around $8 million over.
Hines Ward is due $4 million next season. Aaron Smith is $2 million still on the books. Useless Chris Kemoeatu, who must have pictures of Deuce dressed like a sheep at Pittsburgh’s annual Furry Convention to still be on this team, is due a whopping $3.5 million. And then we have aging James Farrior, who is scheduled to make $3 million next season. So there are plenty of cuts left to make to get under the cap.
Cutting all of those players would get the Steelers right under the cap with just about enough room left to sign this year’s crop of draft picks. It doesn’t leave in room to sign any free agents. And, more importantly, it doesn’t take into account any contract extensions they may wish to dole out. And therein lies the problem.
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Hey guys (and girl), your paragon of virtue, your hero, your party host, Chris here. I want to thank everyone who inquired about being this week’s guest blogger. I chose a man whose name will probably be familiar to those of you who frequented the comment section on the Site That Shall Not Be Named. Without further ado, take it away Hennessey…
Well, Steeler Nation, it’s that time of year. We’ve collectively survived a lockout, a stressful salary-cap crunch, and seven gut wrenching (well, most of them) games, including a week 1 loss that humbled fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers from China to Chinatown.
So how good did Monday night feel!?!?
I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Ravens win again, so Tuesday morning highlights were a big treat!
Joe Bert Flacco looked like he strayed from Ernie’s protection and got caught up in a street-corner mugging, Baltimore’s favorite pastime.
We’ve reached that point in the season when rookies become veterans, veterans become leaders, and Bert becomes a one-man interception-throwing tackling dummy. I love a good redemption story and, if “Baltimore’s Future” keeps leading his team of Muppets into slaughter, there’s going to be a great one in two weeks. How can the Black and Gold make it happen?
Week 8 marks the mid-way point of the regular season and the beginning of the end for those teams that weren’t meant to make the cut this year. For the Steelers the next two games are the make-or-break point. As we learned back in 2009 during that woeful five game losing streak (including losses to the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns, boasting a combined 9-26 record at the time they faced the Steelers), the end of a season can really set the tone for what comes after. For a team that prides themselves on contending for championships every year, what must we do to survive the dog days of November and December?