After almost a month of intrigue, confusion, and debate, Steelers Nation now knows that Emmanuel Sanders will remain a Pittsburgh Steeler, for 2013 at least. By matching the New England Patriots 2.5 million dollar restricted free agent tender, the Steelers gave themselves a new lease on their draft pick from the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
- But signing Emmanuel Sanders came at a price.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have next to nothing left below the NFL salary cap.
Some of the consequences are obvious. The Steelers cannot sign Ahmad Bradshaw before June 1st without either cutting a player or mortgaging even more money against future salary cap years with a restructure.
Likewise, should another team make a run at Isaac Redman and/or Steve McClendon (and the Green Bay Packers could be signing McClendon as you read this) the Steelers would face the same unwelcome choice of losing a prospective starter or accumulating more unwelcome salary cap equity towards salary cap hell.
Alternatively, the Steelers could rescind their restricted free agent tender to Redman, as Behind the Steel Curtain’s Neal Coolong had suggested.
- Those are the known consequences that everyone else is discussing.
There’s also the unpleasant possibility that the decision to keep Sanders will end Charlie Batch’s and Doug Legursky’s tenure with the Steelers.
Batch entered free agency already on the bubble, that much was clear when the Steelers signed journey man Bruce Gradowski. One of the general lessons of the 2012 season was that the Steelers needed to inject youth into the depth cart below Ben Roethlisberger. A specific corollary to that was that Byron Leftwich simply could not be relied upon.
Gradowski’s signing ended part of the issue, but that still left Batch. Kevin Colbert had indicated that the Steelers might bring Batch back, depending on their luck in the draft.
- Now it is perhaps as much as a numbers game is a question of chance.
A late or mid-round rookie signal caller will cost less than Batch, and that might force the Steelers hand alone.
No Love for Legursky?
Then there’s the question of Doug Legrusky’s status. As Steel Curtian Rising predicted in his Free Agent Focus piece of Legursky, no team has tripped over itself to offer Legrusky a contract.
- Legursky figured to be the Steelers to bring back if they wanted him.
The assumption was that they did. Yet, he remains unsigned, apparently a lower priority that Stevenson Sylvester. OK, the decision to resign Sylvester was driven by lack of depth.
But shouldn’t depth figure into the Steelers decisions on offensive line?
If the Mike Tomlin era has proven anything to Steelers Nation, it should be that you can never have enough good offensive lineman. An Doug Legursky is has shown that he is more than a capable guard or center who can and has come in during heat of a game and provided stability.
- Yet he remains unsigned, and likely will need to remain available and unsigned until after June 1st.
Salary cap purgatory means that the Steelers must make tough choices and gamble with some personnel decisions.
They made such a gamble when they only offered Emmanuel Sanders an orginal round tender. That move cost them another million dollars.
It may also end up costing them two proven veteran back ups.
Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2013 Free Agent Focus.