December 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) reacts after making pass reception for a first down against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers Free Agency: Emmanuel Sanders to visit Patriots

The Steelers already lost one of their key receivers when Mike Wallace signed a huge deal with the Miami Dolphins, but could they be set to lose another?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that the restricted free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders has a visit planned with the New England Patriots on Friday and while restricted free agents rarely change teams, there is a good chance that Sanders could join Tom Brady in New England next season.

Nov 4, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) prior to the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

The Patriots have a ton of cap room, much more than the Steelers have and if they were to offer Sanders a front loaded contract, with most of the money in the early years, it would be almost next to impossible for the Steelers to match.

New England just lost Brady’s top receiver in Wes Welker, who signed with the Denver Broncos, and will be looking to continue to upgrade the position in order to surround Brady with weapons.

Sanders could join  new signees Danny Amendola and Donald Jones and if New England decides to offer Sanders a contract, it would also likely spell the end of Brandon Lloyd with the Patriots as they have to make a decision in the next week whether to give Lloyd his roster bonus or cut him loose.

Sanders set career highs with 44 catches and 626 yards in 2012, while starting seven games and is penciled in to be a starter in 2013 alongside Antonio Brown.

If the Patriots signed him to an offer sheet, the Steelers would have seven days to match. If they can’t match or choose not to, the New England would send a third-round pick to Pittsburgh.

This is a nice move for the Pats. Don’t be surprised if they make Sanders an offer that the Steelers can’t match.

If that is the case, I hate to see what the Steelers receiving core will look like next season.

Check back often to City of Champions Sports for continual updates on all of the wheelings and dealings of Steelers free agency.

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Tags: Emmanuel Sanders New England Patriots NFL Free Agency 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers

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