There was one dissenting voice on this, and he turned out to be correct. I interviewed sports agent Eric Metz in late June, and he predicted that undrafted rookie free agents would make more teams than usual. He thought owners and general managers would want to hire cheap labor coming out of the lockout.
“Who’s going to want to pay $1 million dollars to an eight-year guy at the end of his career when they can get a guy for $330,000? Metz said in a story that was published June 30, three weeks before the lockout ended. “You can have three impact special teamers making what the veteran at the end of his career is making.”
Metz, it turns out, was correct. Fifty eight undrafted rookie free agents made 53-man rosters, according to the Associated Press. That’s more than any other year since 2003.
The Chicago Bears kept five undrafted rookie free agents, including former Pitt safety Dom DeCicco, who made the team as a special teams player and linebacker.
Saunders’ case is a bit unusual. He was rated as one of the top tight ends in the country last summer before being dismissed from the South Carolina Gamecocks by coach Steve Spurrier. Mel Kiper, Jr. had him rated as the No. 2 overall tight end last summer. So his talent was not in question.
Saunders had to convince NFL teams that he did not have character issues. Saunders was caught up in the player-agent scandal from last year that also led to several North Carolina players being suspended. And he had issues at South Carolina with some off-field incidents.
Saunders also had to convince the Steelers he could block, something he did not have to do much at South Carolina.
Saunders did did a lot of convincing on several fronts and beat out veteran John Gilmore as the No. 3 tight end.
That’s all for now. I’m headed out to practice soon and will have another post later.