The New England Patriots have a desperate need at wide receiver, and they've made their first move to potentially address that need. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the team has signed Steelers' restricted free agent Emmannuel Sanders to a one year offer sheet.
The Steelers now have five days to match the offer sheet. If they choose to let him walk, the Patriots will owe the Steelers' their 3rd round selection in this month's draft, the 91st pick.
Emmanuel Sanders worked out of the slot a lot in Pittsburgh, but he certainly has the athleticism and enough size to work on the outside. Were he to land in New England, he'd likely play a lot on the outside, but I'm sure the Patriots would would move him around quite a lot as well. While his yard per catch numbers from his three years in Pittsburgh won't amaze you, he has the potential to be a better downfield threat than the stats would suggest.
The one year offer sheet the Patriots and Sanders agreed to is intriguing, to say the least. By signing him to just a one year offer sheet, the Patriots could risk losing a 3rd round pick for just one year of service from Sanders.
On the flip side, The one year offer sheet presents a difficult challenge for Pittsburgh. Should Pittsburgh match the offer, they could risk losing Sanders a year from now with no compensation in return. That makes me believe that they could opt to simply take New England's third round pick now.
In turn, should this scenario unfold, one has to wonder if the Patriots and Steelers could work out a trade instead, allowing the Patriots to sign Sanders to a long term deal. The Patriots made a similar move with Wes Welker in 2007.
Either way, this move certainly adds intrigue to the next five days from a Patriots perspective as we lead up to the draft. As for my opinion on the 3rd round draft choice the Patriots would have to give up to acquire Sanders: absolutely worth it. What are your thoughts?