On Friday, reports surfaced that the New England Patriots had interest in Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders. The interest appeared to be mutual after Sanders took a visit to Patriot headquarters. This led to speculation that the Patriots could sign Sanders to an offer sheet after the Steelers gambled by only using the original pick tender on their wideout.
The speculation then led to rampant rumors fueled by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Sanders had signed an offer sheet with the Patriots, however, it appears that report jumped the gun.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Patriots still mulling whether to sign Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. So far, no decision made and no offer sheet signed.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2013
If the Patriots eventually do make an offer for Sanders, the Steelers would have one week to match the offer or else they would receive the Patriots third-round pick in exchange for Sanders. With the current salary cap situations of New England and Pittsburgh, it would be very easy for the Patriots to front-load a contract and make it nearly impossible for the Steelers to sign.
This is a story that is still developing, but the Patriots have made it clear that they are looking to get younger at the wide receiver position.
If an offer sheet is eventually on the table, it would come as no surprise.