I dunno, I was fine either way they went with this. 3rd round picks are a crapshoot and I'd rather not completely punt a season of Ben's career.
I have to think they will work on an extension. Crossing my fingers that the guy can stay healthy.
Depends on the crop of WRs in any given year. There's some very good talent in R1-2, but I think there's some excellent WR value in R3-4 this year, less of a crapshoot than perhaps other years. Two scenarios:Lose Sanders, Get R3 Draft Pick
2013 - Steelers get the 3.29 (91). Have A. Brown and vets Burress and Cotchery, plus PS/fringe roster players like Gilreath, Moye, etc. Clearly depth is an issue and at a minimum 2 future starters would need to be drafted to replace Wallace and Sanders. If the Steelers find a WR1 in R1-2, they could then find a complementary player in R3-5 without sacrificing other draft needs. Players available ~ the Steelers R3 selection(s) include: A&M's Ryan Swope (+speed, productive under 2 top QBs), Texas's Marquise Goodwin (+speed), WVU's Stedman Bailey (+speed, + productivity, +++TD), K State's Chris Harper (size, hands), OK's Kenny Stills (+speed); after that are more developmental/crapshoot types. There's a LOT of speed in the bunch listed, so you could boost the speed of the WR corps, and use the earlier pick on a guy deemed to be a WR1 type (IMO, Austin and possibly Hopkins at 1.17; in trade back or R2 Patton, Hunter, Williams, Rogers).
The 2013 season would be one where the rookies would need to be worked into the lineup, much as when we drafted Wallace and Sanders. Having Plax and Cotchery helps in this, but the 2013 productivity might suffer. 2014 and onward looks promising in this scenario, however.
Another bonus is the fact that by wiping the Sanders cap hit, the FO could pick up one more FA to plug holes.Keep Sanders, No Extension
2013 - More continuity in the passing game, but one fewer FA to be signed due to cap effect. The building phase of the WR corps is pushed back a year from previous scenario, but 2013 is likely more productive.
2014 - Sanders leaves via FA. A mid-level draft pick has to be used that would have otherwise been available in the previous scenario.
2015 - Steelers receive comp pick unless FAs basically balance out, and they get nothing. Let's wildly speculate and say Sanders nets us a R5 comp. (This would be the equivalent of a 2013 R7 pick by standard computation.)
Pluses: Better 2013 WR productivity. Minuses: Loss of 2013 FA, loss of 2014 mid-round pick, net 4 round loss in comp/tender picks, timetable for WR upgrade pushed back.
Now, all this changes if they extend Sanders (but do you?) and grab a solid WR1 this year.