The Steelers are prepared to let receiver Emmanuel Sanders test free agency, and do not expect to retain him, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert expounded on Sanders’ value, and noted “where he goes in free agency and what his market is we don’t know at this point, but he certainly performed for us last year, and we’ll see where it is in the future.”
Sanders had a nice season as a complementary receiver to Antonio Brown, catching 67 passes for 670 yards and six touchdowns. However, the Steelers don’t have much cap room with which to work, and they believe Markus Wheaton is ready to step into the number-two role. Our own Luke Adams put Sanders in the second tier of free agent receivers, and speculated that the Patriots could be interested in his services (as they were last season when they signed to him to an offer sheet, which the Steelers then matched), while we have also learned that the Jets covet Sanders.
Other news from the AFC North:
- The increased salary cap might benefit the Steelers even more than other teams, writes Brown in a separate article. With the team looking to shed salary in any way possible, the slight bump will be very beneficial. The Steelers will look to clear cap space by releasing several players as well as restructuring contracts, perhaps including that of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
- The new salary cap could also be a boon to the Bengals, as they look to re-sign two key free agents. With the 5% increase, the team might be able to retain both defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins, reports Cole Harvey of ESPN.com.
- A decision on much-maligned Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden will be coming soon, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The 30-year-old Weeden is widely expected to be released, though it was rumored that he has requested a trade. Whether the Browns could garner even a late-round pick for him remains to be seen.
- Browns GM Ray Farmer knows what he wants in quarterback, and needs to find out if any of the top QBs in the draft fit the bill, writes ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon. “I truly believe that a guy being able to accurately throw the football, make quick decisions and process and throw from what I call a quote-unquote crowded pocket,” said Farmer. “Guys who can play in those instances [have] critical factors in my mind of what the quarterback needs to be able to demonstrate he can do.”
- The Ravens could look to add either a wide receiver or an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft, and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun goes over some of the available options.