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New England Patriots wisely send offer sheet for Emmanuel Sanders

They’ve done it. The New England Patriots worked out Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders at the beginning of free agency, and that led to a false report that the Patriots had already submitted an offer sheet for the talented vertical threat. But the Patriots always had their eyes set on Sanders and were merely waiting for the opportune moment. Most expected the Pats to wait until closer to the deadline to submit an offer sheet for the restricted free agent, and they decided that submitting something on the 10th was the right move.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has reported the news, and this is some huge stuff indeed. The deadline to submit an offer sheet to the Steelers for Sanders is the 19th, so it will be interesting to see why the Pats did it now. The logic is that the longer the Pats waited, the harder it would be for the Steelers to be able to match that offer. Because theoretically, more time equals more chances to make moves or have your cap room decrease. The Steelers are already in cap trouble.

Pittsburgh will have to match the Patriots offer, and I have a feeling they won’t be able to. Why? Because if the Patriots are willing to sign Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet and lose a third-round pick in the process, then they would be willing to structure the deal so that the Steelers would be unable to match the offer. On top of that, the Patriots have more cap flexibility than the Steelers.

It will be interesting to see how much the Pats offered and if the Steelers match the offer. The Pats are wise to sign Sanders to an offer sheet, because he is well-worth the third-round pick. I mean, he was a third-round pick and is a 26-year-old with plenty of potential and some solid production thus far. Last season, Sanders caught 44 passes for 626 yards- that’s 14.2 yards per reception.

The Steelers really need to hold onto Sanders after losing Mike Wallace, and there’s also the matter of Heath Miller‘s recovery from an ACL tear. Sanders, however, would be exactly the vertical threat the Pats revamped wide receiver crops needs, and he can also run the intermediate routes well- he isn’t just a one-trick, speed demon. The Patriots need more talent at the wide receiver position, and Sanders is an excellent fit.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Emmanuel Sanders New England Patriots NFL Free Agency Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Hal Bent

    Love this move. BB can’t draft and develop receivers lately, so why not steal from the Steelers? Only 26, plenty of tape on him, hurt rival to boot…its a win-win!

  • Mike

    Objectively, this is a baffling move by NE. Acknowledging that Bill has lost (ever had?) the ability pick and develop young WR, why pay $2.5MM for a one year deal on a low production WR and give up such a rare and valuable commodity as a 3rd rounder? $2.5MM x 1 year vs $450k x 4 years. This is arithmetic that good teams don’t get on the wrong side of. I guess it’s win now or die trying. I expect the later.

    • Joe Soriano

      Baffling? Is a third-round pick really a “rare and valuable commodity”? I mean, Sanders was also a third-round pick once, and he’s a third-round pick who actually worked out. The Steelers just couldn’t tender him higher due to their cap issues. $2.5 million is a solid deal for a receiver who can stretch the field, play the slot and outside, and who is more than just a “low production WR”. I would rather take a flier on him than whatever WR comes in in the late 3rd round. If you do think the Pats can’t develop a young WR anymore, then why wouldn’t you be a fan of this deal? The Pats aren’t just thinking about money here; they are thinking about production. Sanders had 626 receiving yards stuck behind Wallace and Brown, so he does have production.

      • Mike

        He doesn’t stretch the field; he has 1 career TD. The ‘bird in hand’ theory in free agency is the fastest way to be drafting in the top 10. The difference is cost of draft picks and free agents is so staggering that to rely on the later comes at far too high a price to other positions (and you know that). In a league dominated by multi-WR sets his numbers are head-scratching. Unless the organization is completely delusional, this is done to strengthen the Patriots with no thought to ‘weakening’ Pittsburgh. That is a great plan on Madden, but not a reality in the actual NFL.

        • Joe Soriano

          Eh, I wouldn’t use touchdowns as a stat to show how well he “stretches the field”, yards per reception is for that. Fair points on the salary cap issue, and I guess that’s your concern- that the Pats are killing themselves in the face of the cap. The Pats are going to sign Sanders to a long-term deal, so the final cap number isn’t going to be $2.5 million. For me, I’m not concerned about the money; I’m concerned about the talent. The points you make are extremely valid, but I think we are looking at this from different perspectives. I honestly think Sanders offers a major upgrade to what we have, and he is a very talented player with a lot of upside. Most of that hasn’t been tapped into yet, and that’s because he wasn’t able to showcase himself much in Pittsburgh behind Wallace and Brown. The Pats have done an excellent job managing the cap thus far in the offseason, so I don’t think they are going to buck that trend here. It’s a gamble, but I think it is worth the risk.