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.
Steelers RFA WR Emmanuel Sanders visiting Patriots today. Pats could sign him to offer sheet that cap-strapped Steelers struggle to match.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2013
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.