By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter have submitted a one-year offer sheet to restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, who was tendered at the third-round level ($1.33 million) earlier this offseason by the Steelers. The deal is supposedly for 1 year and $2.5 million dollars.
Pittsburgh has five days to match the offer. If they can’t or decide not to match, the Steelers would receive the Patriots third round draft pick (#91 overall) in compensation.
Sanders has 94 receptions for 1,290 yards and 5 TDs in his three-year career, and last season caught 44 passes for 626 yards (14.2 yd average) both career highs to go along with one touchdown reception.
This move would further solidify the Patriots WR position which has gone through wholesale changes this off-season. Wes Welker is gone to Denver via free agency, Brandon Lloyd was released and Deion Branch, Donte’ Stallworth and Julian Edelman are all free agents.
The team has brought in Danny Amendola, Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins and now possibly Sanders so far this off-season. With Jake Ballard returning from an ACL injury, Aaron Hernandez may see more time at WR in 2013. What the team has been lacking thus far is a speedy WR who can stretch the field outside the numbers. Sanders, if he comes to New England can do just that as well as play in the slot.
The pattern that is starting to emerge seems to be that the team has the option of moving different players inside, outside and in motion to take advantage of individual matchups available. Sanders, Amendola, Jones or Hernandez could all spend time in the slot.
Pittsburgh has just over $2 million under the cap according to numbers released by the NFLPA, that will increase by $5.5 million once Willie Colon’s release becomes official on June 1, according to the Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard. That does not take into account for any money Pittsburgh will have to pay its 2013 draft picks.
If Pittsburgh doesn’t match the Patriots offer, that will leave New England with just picks in the first and second rounds and two picks in the 7th round, a total of four overall.
Scott Pioli, former Patriots Director of Player personnel was quoted by ESPN Boston that Sanders is a better receiver than any player that would be available for the Patriots in the 3rd round of this year’s draft and that he has the skills to play both as a slot and perimeter receiver.
Pittsburgh has until Monday to match the offer. Stay tuned….