Pittsburgh Steelers Are Now on the Clock…to Sign Emmanuel Sanders

By Clyde A. Speller
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier during this offseason, the New England Patriots talked to restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders of the Pittsburgh Steelers in hopes that he would be a part of their team in 2013. Now the chances of that happening could become a reality very soon.

New England has offered Sanders a one-year contract today, and the Steelers now have seven days to match that offer. If that doesn’t happen, then Sanders will be the newest member of the Patriots, and Pittsburgh will receive a third-round pick from New England in this year’s draft.

Looking at the Steelers’ financial dilemma, the chances of matching the Patriots’ offer doesn’t look promising. The only way I see Pittsburgh making more salary cap room is by releasing more players, which would weaken their already thin roster.

I hate to say it, but it just might be best for the Steelers to let Sanders go on to Foxboro and take that third-round pick. If this happens, Pittsburgh would have a total of nine draft picks, and two of those would be in the third round.

Having already loss wide receiver Mike Wallace, general manager Kevin Colbert could go after a big-play wide receiver during the second day of the draft and possibly grab a tight end for insurance, since it is uncertain how Heath Miller will recover from reconstructive knee surgery.

On the flipside, losing Sanders means that the Steelers will have to heavily depend on aging receivers Plaxico Burress and Jericho Cotchery. Assuming that Sanders leaves the Steel City, looking at the lack of depth of receivers could alter Pittsburgh’s drafting strategy, which will make it more difficult to contend in the already tough AFC North.

Colbert and the rest of the Steelers’ organization have a lot to hash out within the next week.

Clyde A. Speller  is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google

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