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New England Patriots working out Emmanuel Sanders is genius

The New England Patriots are revamping their wide receiver corps, and the first change was the addition of Danny Amendola to replace Wes Welker. The second? The signing of former Buffalo Bills No. 3 wide receiver Donald Jones after Jones worked out with the Pats yesterday. And now, there could be a third move for the Patriots on the WR front, as Adam Schefter is reporting that the Pats are bringing in former Pittsburgh Steelers speedster Emmanuel Sanders in for a workout.

The Steelers would love to keep Sanders, but they have serious cap troubles and won’t be able to keep him if the Patriots are serious. A restricted free agent, Sanders was given an original round tender by the Steelers, which means that the Pats would have to part ways with a third-round pick if they want to sign Sanders (a third-rounder out of SMU in 2010).

In my opinion, it is worth it for the Patriots to sign Sanders to an offer sheet and give up a third-round pick. First of all, is there a wide receiver in the third round who can be better than Sanders? Maybe. Is it likely? No. Stedman Bailey is a solid wideout, but he reportedly wants to play in the slot and is the only truly good value to be had at the position in the third-round.

The Patriots still need a playmaking wide receiver, because Jones is more of a possession guy. In this piece, I examine Jones following the signing and also wonder if he could replace Brandon Lloyd (a move that seems more likely now that Sanders is being worked out).

Emmanuel Sanders can definitely be that playmaker, and people who think Jones can be that guy are misguided and need to take a look at his 10-11 yard per reception averages. Sanders, meanwhile, is a speed demon who averages a terrific 13-14 yards per reception each season. Last year, the 25-year-old caught 44 passes (more receptions than Jones, by the way) for 626 yards (14.1 yards per reception). In the Patriots offense as a guy to stretch the field, those numbers could rise, and Sanders would certainly be valuable for the Pats.

Imagine a young, extremely talented core of pass-catchers with Amendola in the slot, Jones and Sanders on the outside (the former as a possession guy, the latter stretching the field), and then the standout tight end trio in Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, and Jake Ballard. Shane Vereen will also be a threat in the backfield, and things will be even better if Julian Edelman and Danny Woodhead are back in the fold.

Working out Sanders is simply a genius move made by the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick, and I think picking him up is a worthwhile move for the Pats to make.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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  • Bob

    It’s receiving corps, not core. Other than that, I guess I mostly agree with the premise of him being a decent replacement for Lloyd. I still think getting Lloyd back at a reduced rate is the best case scenario, and I don’t really think Sanders’ role would increase much in New England. He was, at best, Pittsburgh’s 4th option last year behind Brown, Wallace and Miller, with both Wallace and Brown better at stretching the field. I guess his vertical game would be accentuated if New England had nobody but him to go deep, but he’s not that big, and certainly not the deep threat that Lloyd, Brown and Wallace are, despite being a step faster than the former two. Definitely a talented guy, but paying sizable money and sending a third round pick to a team with a franchise QB for a No. 3 receiver with some potential…. I’ll pass.

    • Joe Soriano

      I used “corps” in the first sentence and decided to try and mix things up by using “core” in a somewhat different manner. Anyway, I do think Sanders’s ability to stretch the field would be better showcased in New England, and I don’t view him as a true replacement for Lloyd. I’m not worried about giving a pick to the Steelers, because it really doesn’t matter who gets the pick. My thing is that there probably isn’t anyone better in the third round, and I don’t think the Pats will end up paying “sizeable” money for him. The Steelers have some cap issues and probably won’t be able to keep Sanders at the rate the Patriots can. Sanders is a better deep threat than Lloyd is, in my opinion, and I think the Patriots plan is to keep Lloyd and add Sanders as well. They want to keep Lloyd at a reduced rate, though, and it’s probably to go younger and replace him with Donald Jones.

      Great comment, and it brought some of the cons to the forefront, with the biggest one being that Sanders might not be any more than a No. 3 receiver. I would like to find out, though, because I do see some upside there for him to be a No. 2 guy. Giving a third-rounder is something of a risk, but I just think Sanders is better than the receivers available at that pick.

    • MikeInMaine

      You’re wrong about most everything you said here. Lloyd is no deep threat- and I love the guy. Sanders can be had for VERY small money. I think it was 1.9M. Sanders impressed me more than Wallace last year. He has SOO much better of a personality, and that’s very important to BB. Character is key. And given equal opportunities, his #s would have been better. Wallace drops more balls than a lotto machine. Sanders takes people’s heads off regularly while blocking for his team-mates. And Wallace got paid a billion bucks more than Sanders. Apparently you need to go watch Sanders’ youtube videos. He’s definitely a deep threat and potentially a #2 if not even a #1 WR. Maybe you didn’t see what happened to Wes Welker and Deion Branch in New England. And David Givens and David Patten for that matter. And how do we know, but maybe Gronk and Herndo have had some greatness here for the same reasons.