What could have been may be killing Patriot fans these days. Emmanuel Sanders almost signed with New England and perhaps would have been Tom Brady’s primary target. Instead, he remains in Pittsburgh.
Alongside Antonio Brown, Sanders has the chance to truly establish himself as a primary target as the 2 receiver for the Steelers. In a contract year after signing his tender for 2013-14, Sanders has the opportunity to cash in, but more importantly prove he’s an emerging star.
The promise is definitely capable for Sanders. Last season Sanders played all 16 games for the Steelers for the first time in his 3 year career. He also earned over 500 yards (626) and averaged 14.2 ypg, all career highs. Thus, one can theorize that these numbers may double as the number 2 receiver on the depth chart.
With Mike Wallace taking his talents…..to Miami, the door is wide open for Sanders to use his 4.4 speed to build the same reputation that made Wallace a fan favorite. It’s now Sanders time to step up to a bigger role and make an impact. After all, it IS a contract year.
Particularly, Sanders style fits Todd Haley’s offense much better than that of Mike Wallace. Sanders possesses short-area quickness that enables separation from defensive backs. This allows Sanders to be able to run more complete routes, which is something Wallace was known less for. Sanders has excellent lateral quickness and route running skills which fit Todd Haley’s “dink and dunk” philosophies. And, his ability to break away will further make him an asset to the Steelers offense.
The downside to Sanders is that he can fall to nagging injuries often as his history dictates. However, it seems as though he’s been able to maintain a clean bill of health. Now if he can get a moderately inexpensive contract worked out for the Steelers and not become a distraction, a la, Mike Wallace, and the Steelers offensive future may stay bright.