As free agency got underway this week, it’s been an emotional roller coaster for Steelers fans. Sure, we all expected Mike Wallace to leave but not sure we knew he’d get the big payday Miami offered him. He kept it classy though. Thanking SteelerNation for supporting him the first years of his NFL career. He also tweeted that he “bought a Phantom because he always wanted one.” Rich. Young. Handsome. Miami beach. Watch out ladies. Or rather, should it be watch out Mike, they will really be aiming for you now!
Free agency is always ugly because it’s about the business. How much money does a team have to spend and what players can they acquire or keep with that money. For the Steelers, young money crew is no more. With Wallace gone, the Steelers made sure they wrapped up the WR position with Cotchery and Plax. Not so young money crew? I don’t think I am alone in wondering whether these players can handle a starting role. Emmanuel Sanders was offered a third round tender and has been approached by the Patriots. As of yesterday at 4pm, there was no offer sheet out there. The Steelers would have a week to answer or receive a 3rd round compensatory pick. Comp picks aren’t bad, afterall, that is how we got Antonio Brown initially (from the Jets for Santonio Holmes). I think the bigger problem is that the draft isn’t filled with great wide receivers. There’s always that kid who you can grab in the later rounds who ends up being a diamond in the rough, but it’s a risk. But by the looks of the Steelers checkbook, one they seem okay taking, at least right now. I guess we’ll see what happens when and if the Pats offer Sanders a deal. In the meantime, low expectations for 2013.
Heath Miller is projected to be out the first part of the season with an injury he sustained at the end of the 2012 season. To help out at the TE position, yesterday the Steelers signed Matt Spaeth. He’s a good blocker, but doesn’t have the receiving hands that Heath has. Miller was one of the top receivers for the Steelers last year with 71 receptions for 816 yards and 8 TDs. This was a move many thought the Steelers should employ long ago. A lot of teams in the NFL have used their tight ends as top receivers, think Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis. Using Heath Miller last year opened up the offense a little despite the disappointing season.
Perhaps that’s why the Steelers are more willing to let go of Sanders. Last year he pulled in 44 catches for 626 yards and 1 TD. He’s also spent some time on the injury list. Sanders was expected to have his breakout year this coming season much like Antonio Brown had the year before. Unfortunately, he might just be wearing another team’s uniform when he does finally break out.
We won’t know for sure, though, until the Pats make an offer and he accepts and the Steelers take the 3rd round pick in return. That happening has had it’s own drama the last couple days. The Post-Gazette reported the offer was out there yesterday, but Sanders said he has not received an offer. As emotional as it is for us, it’s even more stressful for Sanders who probably wonders where he will be playing next year and who his teammates will be.
Gotta love free agency.
I’m ready for the Draft! And don’t forget, if you will be in NYC for the Draft, I want to interview you.