Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Patriots Signing Steelers' Emmanuel Sanders To Offer Could Mean

Three little Bugatti Boys walking in the zoo;
A dolphin sprayed one and then there were two.

Two little Bugatti Boys sitting in the sun;
One was covered by a patriot's shade and then there was one. - paraphrased from Ten Little Indians

The New England Patriots have signed Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a one-year offer sheet, according to Steelers.com and other sources. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the amount of the contract "shouldn't scare the Steelers," meaning that it is within the range that for them to be able to match it, which they have to do by Sunday. This was confirmed by fellow ESPN reporter, Ed Werder.

"Expect Steelers to match Patriots offer sheet and retain WR Emmanual Sanders," wrote Werder. He's vital after loss of Mike Wallace and offer easy to match."

It has since been confirmed that the amount of the deal is for $2.5 million, which, being that the Steelers Salary Cap numbers include his tender, they can match. So, as Schefter said, the Steelers shouldn't be scared to match it. However, money may not only be the issue.

If they choose not to match it, the Steelers would receive the Patriots third-round pick. Sanders was given an original round tender offer in free agency, worth $1.33 million. The Steelers have a little less than $2 million in cap room available, and the decision could simply be made based on that.

They also, though, need to consider what their not-many-years-left-in-his-prime franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, must feel about this. No Rashard Mendenhall, no Mike Wallace, whom Big Ben said the Steelers would miss, and now potentially no Manny?

They offered Manny an original-round tender instead of a first-round tender. If they truly wanted him that much, they would have given him the higher tender like they did Wallace last season. Are they willing to do a tabula rasa, take the Patriot's 91st pick and draft from the admittedly deep wide receiver class? They haven't exactly been stellar in that category of late. Only 21 (22 if Manny stays) out of the last 59 players Kevin Colbert has drafted, spanning the Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin eras, are still with the team, and none from the 2008 draft class.

I, for one, am a believer in known commodities over unknown ones and would prefer to keep him. It means having a player whose attributes you're familiar with, who already knows the system and is already comfortable with the receiver on the other side and with the aforementioned franchise quarterback.

Like the orchestrator of this offer sheet himself, Bill Belichick said at March's annual meetings: "It’s a lot easier to watch a guy in the NFL perform and translate his skills for your team than watch a guy in college perform because of the discrepancy in the passing game."

At the same time, though, it is only a one-year deal, and Manny is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year anyway. Since he has actually signed the offer sheet, that means he has seriously entertained the idea of leaving. That means that there is no guarantee he will be back after next season, unless a long-term deal is signed after June 1st when the Salary Cap money from the release of Willie Colon kicks in. So the Steelers could assure themselves of some return on their investment by not matching the offer.

Like Albert Breer of NFL.com tweeted earlier, "If Pitt is gonna match, they'd likely figure whether Sanders is just in for '13 or long-term. Third-rounder under their control for 4 yrs." So, is the Manny cup half full or half empty?

There is more to come on this and If It Ain't Steel will be offering more on this regarding the draft side of things and what keeping Manny could mean.

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TIDBITS: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was named to the NFL Competition Committee on Tuesday. Will it cause Steelers' players to complain a little less? (No) - http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/04/09/mike-tomlin-joins-competition-committee/

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Steelers nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu was sentenced Thursday to 18 months of probation and will spend four days in a program that's an alternative to jail. He still, though, may get further attention from the NFL. - http://www.postbulletin.com/sports/national/college/steelers-ta-amu-gets-probation-in-drunken-crashes/article_0c56e603-29d9-5cb0-806d-153facf714a3.html

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The Steelers worked out two running backs recently: UCLA's Jonathan Franklin and one we've highlighted before, Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell.

In four years, the 5'10" and 205-pound Franklin rushed for 4,403 yards on 788 carries and had 31 touchdowns. He ran 4.46/40 at the NFL Combine and also showed good leg strength with a 31.5" vertical and a 9'07" broad jump.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that that the Steelers were one of five teams to put Bell through a private pre draft workout.

The 6'1 1/2" and 230-pound Bell, ran a 4.6/40, and showed good overall strength at the Combine by posting a 32 ½-inch vertical jump, 9’3” broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times.

He rushed for 3,346 yards and 33 touchdowns on 671 carries at Michigan State. For our complete breakdown of him, read here: http://ifitaintsteel.blogspot.com/2013/03/do-recent-pro-day-visits-indicate-who.html