The Pittsburgh Steelers have wrapped up their first mandatory mini camp practice of the 2013 season and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders talked to the media after its conclusion.
Will Graves of the Associated Press reports via Twitter that Sanders said there\’s been no movement on contract extension talks so far, but that he\’s not worried about it. The fourth-year wide receiver also stated that he learned from former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace how to handle the last year of a deal and added he had no problem with what Wallace did last season, and that he\’s currently happy with his tender.
Sanders, in my opinion, should have left the reference to the way Wallace handled 2012 out of it, as the last thing that Steelers fans want to hear right now is him saying the new Miami Dolphins wide receiver handled himself well.
Aside from Wallace\’s training camp holdout, he also admitted later in the season that he was unfocused at times and unhappy with the way he was used in the offense of then-new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Like it or not, Wallace\’s contract situation affected his play on the field in 2012, and that\’s the last thing the Steelers need to happen in 2013 with Sanders if they expect to compete for a Super Bowl.
Already this offseason, Sanders\’s agent Jordan Woy has made it known that his client is willing to play out the final year of his deal and hit unrestricted free agency next offseason if a “very good deal” wasn\’t signed with the Steelers prior to the start of the season.
Sanders, however, needs a productive 2013 season in order to cash in, and that is where he differs from Wallace. Heading into his final season under contract last year, Wallace had already registered 171 catches for 3,206 yards and 24 touchdowns. Sanders, on the other hand, heads into the final year of his deal with 94 catches for 1,290 yards and five touchdowns.
As I have previously pointed out, the Steelers have the salary cap space to get an extension done with Sanders during training camp as long as it is a “reasonable” one. If Sanders thinks he will get a deal close to the one fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown received last year during training camp, he can forget about it.
If I were Sanders, I would deflect questions about my contract status from here on out as anything he says moving forward will more than likely not be looked at in a favorable light and especially if he keeps on referencing Wallace in his answers.