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.
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