Steelers receiver Sanders visiting Patriots
Day 4 of the NFL free agency saw another notable Steelers receiver possibly on his way out.
Restricted free-agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders visited New England, and a trio of unrestricted free agents — Dallas linebacker Victor Butler, Chicago tight end Kellen Davis and Arizona running back Beanie Wells — left the Steelers' facility Friday without deals.
Only one restricted free agent — running back Mike Bell from New Orleans to Philadelphia in 2010 — has moved from one team to another over the past four years. The price tag of a long-term offer along with handing over a draft choice to sign a restricted free agent has been more than teams have been willing to pay.
Unlike with unrestricted free agent receiver Mike Wallace, who signed a five-year, $60 million deal with Miami earlier in the week, the Steelers have total control over whether Sanders will be back for the upcoming season.
The Steelers placed a $1.323 million original-round tender on Sanders last week instead of a second-round tender that would've cost them $700,000 more. However, the higher tag likely would have guaranteed that no team would be interested in the young receiver.
If the Patriots sign Sanders to an offer sheet and the Steelers don't choose to match it within the allotted five days, the Steelers would receive New England's third-round pick (91st overall) in April's draft as compensation.
It's unknown if New England would be willing to give up a draft pick for Sanders because it has only five selections this year. But the Patriots have enough room under the salary cap to present a contract to Sanders that the salary cap-tight Steelers couldn't match.
The Steelers are about $3 million under the $123 million salary cap. They will pick up another $5.5 million in cap space June 1 because of the release of guard Willie Colon (who signed a one-year, $1.2 million deal with the Jets on Friday) that will be designated for their draft picks.
The loss of Sanders would be significant since he is expected to be the Steelers No. 2 receiver behind Antonio Brown. Sanders started only eight games in his three-year career and has 94 catches and five touchdowns. He turns 26 on Sunday.
The Steelers have veteran receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress on the roster but not much in terms of experience after that.
The Steelers haven't done much in free agency other than re-signing their own: Ramon Foster, Larry Foote and Burress. They also added defensive back William Gay and backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.
The Steelers are looking into options to bolster their roster through free agency. Their needs at outside linebacker and running back sparked visits from Wells and Butler. Heath Miller's unknown status after ACL surgery has the Steelers interested in Davis.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
- Steelers notebook: Bell says he’s prepared to test Chiefs defense
- Chiefs game-plan play that suits speedy rookie Thomas’ talents
- Veteran tight end Miller’s blocking skill crucial to success to Steelers running game
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Steelers notebook: ‘Killer B’s’ set team records in victory
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Steelers’ Wheaton embraces expanding role
- Steelers hold off the Falcons to keep moving in AFC North chase