Leading up to the deadline for the Pittsburgh Steelers to match the New England Patriots’ offer for restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger petitioned to keep Sanders in the Steel City. Well, it looks like Roethlisberger will get his wish.
The Steelers have matched the Patriots’ $2.5 million offer and will keep Sanders in the black and gold for the 2013 season. Pittsburgh already lost wide receiver Mike Wallace to free agency and will more than likely not have tight end Heath Miller for the start of the season due to recovery from reconstructive knee surgery.
It looks as if Sanders will now have a much bigger role in Pittsburgh’s offense and will be highly depended on by Big Ben.
Though this signing only covers the 2013 season, there is a possibility for Sanders and the Steelers’ front office to figure out a long-term deal before the start of the regular season.
Since this has happened, the Steelers won’t get an extra draft pick for this month’s draft and will have to make improvements through the draft for a team that finished the 2012 season with an 8-8 record.
Personally, I thought that there was no way that the Steelers organization would match the offer. Having that extra selection would have given Pittsburgh a chance to add some talent and depth for a lower price, versus signing a veteran via free agency. However, keeping Sanders does have its benefits.
Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense know what to expect out of Sanders. Furthermore, that is one less person that has to get acclimated to the Steelers’ offensive game plan.
Even though Pittsburgh has matched the offer for Sanders, they still need to address the wide receiver position in the upcoming weeks. I feel that adding a pass rusher should still be their top priority, but receiver shouldn’t be far behind. The second or third round would be a good place for the Steelers to get a hold of one.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google