Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) returns a kick-off against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Miami Dolphins won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers To Let Emmanuel Sanders Test Free Agency

With all of the holes on the defensive side of the ball, a lot of attention has been paid since the season ended to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiving core.

Both Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery are free agents and it is expected that the Steelers will target a tall wide receiver for Ben Roethlisberger early on in the draft.

Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) reacts on the field before playing the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That may be more of the case now.

Steelers general manager confirmed this week what many already expected – Sanders won’t be among the in-house free agents that the Steelers will try to sign before March 11.

Colbert, speaking to reporters Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, said the Steelers will let the market determine Sanders’ price before deciding how much of a run they will make at the fourth-year wide receiver.

However I would suspect that the Steelers won’t try very hard to retain Sanders. I have been saying all along that I don’t envision any scenario where Sanders will be back and I feel even more strongly about that statement now.

The free-agent signing period starts on March 11, and Sanders is expected to draw interest from multiple teams. He is likely to command the kind of contract the Steelers are unwilling to match with second-year man Markus Wheaton waiting behind Sanders, and with this year’s draft so deep at wide receiver.

Sanders signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract last year with the New England Patriots, but the Steelers retained his services by matching the offer instead of taking a third-round pick in last year’s draft as compensation.

Sanders started last season opposite Pro Bowler and team MVP Antonio Brown and established career-highs in catches (67), receiving yards (670) and touchdown receptions (six).

However, I don’t ever envision Sanders producing much better numbers and it makes very little sense for the Steelers to invest money in a player that has limited upside.

Sanders will get his money.

It will just be with a team other than the Steelers.

Tags: Emmanuel Sanders Pittsburgh Steelers

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