Sanders, who’s entering his fourth year in the league, was a sought-after commodity this offseason. He attracted attention from many teams, including the New England Patriots, who offered a contract to the restricted free agent. However, despite a tight salary cap, the Steelers matched the offer to retain Sanders.
The table definitely seems to be set for Sanders to have a career year. He has familiarity with the game plan of offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and also has one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL throwing him the ball in Ben Roethlisberger (let’s just hope he stays healthy). In addition, the upgrade of the Steelers’ running game should open the passing game even more.
With the possibility of Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller missing some time in the regular season, Sanders should have more opportunities to make big plays. Furthermore, the motivation of playing for a new contract or an extension should increase the chances of him having a monster season.
I don’t think that Sanders will put up All-Pro numbers in 2013. I don’t even think that he’ll crack the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards assuming that Miller comes back in Pro Bowl form, newly-acquired running back LaRod Stephens-Howling gets a hefty amount of receptions out the backfield, and rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton produces.
On the flipside, I do believe that Sanders will surpass his single-season career highs of 44 catches, 626 yards, and two touchdowns. A solid 2013 season from Sanders could help improve the Steelers’ overall offense, as well as cement Sanders in the no. 2 receiver spot for years to come.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+