The Pittsburgh Steelers have already lost wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Rashard Mendenhall to free agency. Now comes the possibility of losing yet another offensive weapon.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is reportedly being sought after by the New England Patriots. Sanders is a restricted free agent, which means that if the Patriots present Sanders with an offer, the Steelers will have seven days to match that offer.
In the event that Pittsburgh doesn’t, Sanders will be the newest addition in New England, and in return, the Steelers will get the Patriots’ third-round pick in the draft.
Losing Sanders will be a tremendous blow to Pittsburgh. If by chance New England outbids the Steelers, their offense will be limited, leaving yet another thing to address this offseason.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown will be the only proven playmaker in the passing game, assuming that tight end Heath Miller won’t be able to go at the start of the 2013 season due to reconstructive knee surgery.
In addition to Brown, Pittsburgh will be left with aging veteran wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Jericho Cotchery.
If this unexpected move is actually executed, the Steelers’ offseason game plan will be altered significantly. More focus will be needed on the offensive side of the ball in the draft and during the remainder of free agency. Furthermore, Pittsburgh’s financial dilemma will make everything that much more difficult to handle.
Sanders finished the 2012 season with 44 receptions for 626 yards and a touchdown. Sanders also stepped in as a punt returner when Pittsburgh was riddled with injuries.
The three-year veteran receiver is expected to be one of the many players to step up for Pittsburgh in 2013. Though Sanders’ numbers weren’t eye-popping last season, he definitely has the potential to be an important part of the Steelers’ offensive scheme, and will be greatly missed if he joins the Patriots.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google