Yesterday, Adam Schefter tweeted out a comment from an anonymous Steeler who believed Emmanuel Sanders could actually be more talented than Mike Wallace. The Patriots have an offer out to the restricted free agent receiver for $2.5 million, that's more cap space than the Steelers have but they could easily move some money around to match it.
The dilemma of course is, would they rather take the third round pick and use that $2.5 million to draft another player and keep them for four years rather than just one? Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger's answer to that is a resounding "no".
Big Ben has been lobbying hard to retain Sanders, calling coach Mike Tomlin and others on the staff urging them to match the $2.5M offer
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 12, 2013
Maybe Ben was the player who thought Sanders had more talent than Wallace.
The fact that Roethlisberger is rallying to keep Sanders around has to be a positive sign for Patriots fans, as it probably remains likely the Steelers will not match. Big Ben probably knows Sanders better than most, and I'm unsure if he's fighting to keep Sanders because he likes him so much, or because the Steelers receiving core is so depleted after Wallace left for Miami.
Ben's support is a bit surprising considering the fact that Sanders has struggled to get on the same page as his quarterbacks at times. This was Greg Bedard's observation after watching film and was backed up by some troubling stats from Pro Football Focus.
"..if you are going to throw a third-round pick at your problem perhaps you want more than a receiver who had three times as many picks as touchdowns thrown his way, and nearly as many drops (3) as forced missed tackles (5)."
I haven't been a huge fan of the Sanders move, but given the Patriots track record with drafting receivers, I'd rather them sign someone who is at least partially proven. However, the fact that Big Ben is fighting so hard to keep him makes me feel a little more confident that the Pats could be making the right move.