A Long-Term Deal for Emmanuel Sanders

A Long-Term Deal for Emmanuel Sanders
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Contract Forecast: Emmanuel Sanders

One of the more interesting scenarios brought forward in the 2013 free agency season concerned Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who received a restricted offer sheet from the New England Patriots only to see it matched, keeping him in Pittsburgh another year. A recent article from Erik Frenz at Bleacher Report classifies Sanders as a target for a long-term extension, so we'll follow suit by placing him in our forecast formula. We'll compare Sanders financially and statistically among a variety of other wide receivers to determine where he stands currently as he approaches the negotiating table.

Comparable Wide Receivers
Sanders is now 26 (March 17), the standard age for sophomore contracts to be signed, and the identical age of Mike Wallace, our best target receiver for this prediction. To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Robert Meachem 4 $25.9 million $6,475,000 27
Pierre Garcon 5 $42.5 million $8,500,000 25
Stevie Johnson 5 $36.25 million $7,250,000 25
Santonio Holmes 5 $45 million $9,000,000 27
Averages 4.75 $37,412,500 $7,806,250 25.6

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Wide Receivers in the NFL

Because Sanders (26) is younger/older than our variables at the times of their signings, we'll adjust the above contracts up/down to his age by adding/subtracting from the overall years to make each variable player 26 years old. Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
5 $39,653,351 $7,930,670
Statistical Analyzations, Prime Percentage
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the year prior to signing their second contract by showing Games Played, Receptions, Receiving Yards, Receiving Yards/Game, and Receiving TD.
Player Games Receptions Rec Yards REC Yards/Game REC TD
Robert Meachem (2010-11,,NO) 16 42 628 39.5 5.5
Pierre Garcon (2010-11, IND) 15 68.5 865.6 57.5 6
Stevie Johson (2010-11, BUF) 16 79 1038.5 64.59 8.5
Santonio Holmes (2008-09, PIT) 15.5 67 1034.6 66.35 5
Averages 15.625 64.125 891.7 56.895 6.25
Emmanuel Sanders (2011-12, PIT) 13.5 38 522.45 32.6 1.5
% Difference -13.60% -40.74% -41.41% -42.79% -76.00%
Our results here show that Sanders just isn't in the class of these mid-level receivers - in any major WR statistical category. He'll have a chance to increase his numbers as the clear big target in Pittsburgh for the first time, but as of now his comparisons work in a negative manner for his forecast. We'll factor his Prime Percentage of -42.91%, into our previously determined base numbers.
Guaranteed Money
Sanders suffered a knee injury in 2011, his 2nd NFL season that has slowed his production and his durability trust from the get-go. We'll factor the Prime Percentage above into the determined average below to account for this.
Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
Robert Meachem $25,900,000 $14,000,000 $54.1
Pierre Garcon $42,500,000 $13,100,000 30.8%
Stevie Johnson $36,250,000 $18,050,000 49.8%
Santonio Holmes $45,000,000 $24,000,000 53.3%
Adjusted Regression 26.8%

Length of the Contract
The going length of a sophomore wide receiver contract age 26 or greater has been 5 years. There's no reason to believe Sanders will get a 6th, especially with durability concerns. We'll use 5 years for our forecast.

Value of the Contract
Sanders' statistical comparisons was one of the lowest in Premium forecast history. He's just not held up to be a premier #1 receiver on the field to date. Our BASE regression of contracts for receivers in his age/talent class left us with an $7.9M/year starting point. Once we added in a negative prime percentage of 42.91%, the following forecast can be determined:

Spotrac's Prediction: 5 years, $22,638,098
  •  Average annual salary: $4,527,620
  •  Guaranteed: $6,063,546 (26.8%)