The New England Patriots may or may not end up signing Steelers restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. At this point, however, contrary to overnight reports, we know that the Patriots have yet to make that decision. ESPN Adam Schefter reports:
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
So there you have it. No deal yet, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
As for my opinion on the matter, I think signing Sanders to an offer sheet would be good business for the Patriots. While Sanders played mostly in the slot in Pittsburgh, he played a lot on the outside in college, and certainly has the skillset to do so in the NFL. Either way, Sanders would have good versatility to line up at a lot of different spots. He can get over the top of the defense, and he can cut on a dime on those short to intermediate routes. His skillset actually reminds me a bit of a young Deion Branch. His production in the league has slowly increased over the first three years of his career, and should he see his role climb in New England, the team could perhaps have a breakout player on their hands.
The question then becomes, would Sanders be worth the 3rd round pick the Patriots would have to give up to sign him? I believe he would. The Patriots currently own the 91st pick. At 91, the draft really becomes a hit/miss area. The Patriots haven't exactly had much success drafting in that area lately, especially at receiver (see, Brandon Tate and Taylor Price).
In many ways, getting Sanders would be the equivalent of adding a draft pick. At 25 (26 tomorrow), Sanders is still very young. But he's also a known commodity. The Patriots need to add talented, young receivers. But with Tom Brady not getting any younger, they can't wait years for them to develop. Emmanuel Sanders is young and talented, and he's just ready to enter the prime of his career.