The San Diego Chargers surprised many last month by only placing the original-round tender on restricted free agent wide receiver Danario Alexander. Only a few days left to see if it was an intelligent gamble or a boneheaded mistake.
NFL teams have until Friday to sign Alexander to an offer sheet. Though not much has happened so far, interest in the receiver could heat up now that Emmanuel Sanders is officially off the market.
Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers matched the New England Patriots’ offer sheet to retain the 26-year-old wide receiver. Sanders, whose original-round tender would have paid him $1.3 million in 2013, will now be paid $2.5 million next season.
Had the Steelers originally tendered Sanders at the second-round level, no team would’ve likely signed him to an offer sheet, and the team could have saved about $500,000, which is significant for a team restricted tightly by the salary cap. Instead, they allowed the Patriots to dictate what they’d have to pay Sanders.
If the Steelers regret their decisions on how they originally handled Sanders, surely the Chargers will regret it if a team signs Alexander to an offer sheet.
If the Patriots were willing to give up a third-round pick and a one-year deal for Sanders, it wouldn’t surprise if the Patriots or any other NFL team were willing to sign Alexander to a similar contract. Alexander was undrafted, meaning a team wouldn’t even have to give the Chargers a draft pick to sign the 24-year-old restricted free agent. Alexander even put up more receiving yards and touchdowns in 10 games last season than Sanders did in 16.
What Alexander did for the Chargers last season was absolutely incredible. Signed off the street in October, Alexander immediately developed a rapport with Philip Rivers, catching 37 passes for 658 yards and 7 touchdowns. Imagine what he and Rivers can do with an entire offseason to work together.
Let’s hope they get that opportunity.