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Eric Decker’s Replacement: Former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders

On Saturday night, free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders inked a three-year, $15 million deal with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos just recently lost Eric Decker, arguably one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, to the New York Jets. Sanders, now a former Steeler, appears to be his replacement. Yes, the Broncos have Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas, but the Broncos took a huge step back as far as depth at wideout.

In 2013, Sanders started 10 games for the Steelers, his first year in that role. He never really had that huge moment as a starter. He did have an incredible 55-yard touchdown reception against the Jets, but not much outside of that. He has all the ability, but at times he seemed to not have his head in the right place. He reminds me of Darrius Heyward-Bey from the Colts.

Sanders particularly let the Steelers down on two drops, one that would have went for a touchdown against the Ravens. I’m sure every Steelers fan remembers that Thanksgiving nail biter that lived up to its hype. The Steelers came up short, 22-20, and Sanders had a part in that.

Heyward-Bey has always had a bad reputation for dropping passes. That has always been the biggest flaw in his game. The kid has talent and size but he just cannot hang onto the ball at times.

I understand football is a team game and there are other opportunities, but Sanders needed to establish himself as the number two wide receiver and never did. Jerricho Cotchery played more like a second wide receiver for the Steelers than Sanders did. Sanders had 740 yards and six touchdowns while Cotchery had 602 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me bashing Sanders. He didn’t play terribly for the Steelers, but I just never really saw the work ethic or mindset in the kid. He could very well prove me wrong and play excellent this year with Peyton Manning. If he does so, I’ll give him credit. Ben Roethlisberger is as good as Manning, so the quarterback won’t be the issue.

In my opinion, Sanders was overpaid by the Denver Broncos. The guy was worth $2.5 million last year and did not do a whole lot this season to increase his worth. I would say he’s worth $4 million, give none and take some. The Steelers would be better off drafting a wide receiver than they would have been hanging onto Sanders.

I hear the speculation and analysis on local radio and some seem to be worried about the Steelers offseason so far. I think the Steelers have done great so far. They have improved in some weak positions already and have not downgraded much at all from what they lost. With this year’s draft, everyone will improve, or at least should. The Steelers are no different and they have made the right moves so far.