It’s rare that a restricted free agent in the NFL is signed by another team, but the New England Patriots are more concerned with gathering talent than they are with what is conventional these days. After speaking with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on Friday night, the Patriots announced early Saturday morning that Sanders had signed their offer sheet and essentially said your move to the Steelers.
Three days after top receiver Mike Wallace signed a $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins, No. 3 receiver Emmanuel Sanders has signed an offer sheet with the New England Patriots that will force the Steelers to match the offer or let him go, too.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
All hope is not lost though, as the Steelers now have five days to decide what they want to do about Sanders signing the Patriots offer sheet. One thing they could do is allow him to walk, as doing so would mean the Patriots would have to give the Steelers a third round draft pick in this April’s NFL Draft. But it’s a small price for New England to pay for not only adding another receiver to a talented corps, but to also weaken a conference foe.
New England scrambled earlier this week after contract talks with slot threat Wes Welker deteriorated in rapid fashion, with Welker scoffing at an offer in the morning on Wednesday and then singing with the Denver Broncos that afternoon. The Patriots clamped the potential bleeding by signing Danny Amendola to a fat new deal, but they still need to fill in some holes on offense to make sure Tom Brady is as effective as he need to be.
If Sanders isn’t matched by the Steelers, his arrival in New England all but spells the end of Brandon Lloyd’s time with the team, and he may actually end up in Pittsburgh as the Steelers suddenly are in desperate need of a wide receiver.
The move is insanely aggressive for the Patriots, and goes to show they weren’t anticipating Wes Welker burning them, and they’re now making others pay because of it.