PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Steelers’ final regular season game is this Sunday at Heinz Field against the Browns, and a lot is riding on the game.
After a 0-4 start, it’s hard to believe a playoff spot is still even mathematically possible for the Steelers if they beat Cleveland.
But even if they do make the playoffs, this will still be their final home game of the season.
While most of the focus will be on longtime veterans possibly playing their final game at Heinz Field, age isn’t the only thing factoring in to potential offseason turnover.
On the offensive side of the ball, it seems extremely likely the second-leading receiver could end up finding an opportunity in another city.
Emmanuel Sanders is in the final year of his contract and never really came close to an extension, so it’s very much on his mind that he could be running out of that tunnel for the final time.
“Yeah, but at the end of the day those are variables that I don’t control. It’s been a process,” said Sanders. “I hope it’s not; I want to be here. I love it here; this is home to me. I hope everything works out for the best.”
Sanders and his teammates somehow found a way to stay alive in the playoff race until the season’s final weekend.
It’s fitting a defense with several veteran starters will be playing a meaningful game in what could be many of their final games in front of Steelers fans.
It’s a group including Ryan Clark and Brett Keisel.
Keisel is aware that this could be the end of a great run as he wills his way on the field to get everything he can out of these final weeks of the season despite a foot injury.
Even teammates who seem safe like Ike Taylor are well aware this weekend could be the end of an era for the Steelers’ defense.
“Not enough photos can go along in a photo album with the memories you got in your head with the guys you share that locker room with, through good and through bad,” said Taylor. “The good outweighs the bad any day. That’s what you try to remember.”
It seems likely the most impact from offseason changes will be on the defensive side of the ball.
Many key offensive players will surely be back, including the man players just named the team’s MVP, Antonio Brown.