According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Patriots have signed Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a restricted free agent offer sheet.
UPDATE: According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Post-Gazette report was premature. Schefter tweeted this morning that "Patriots still mulling whether to sign Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. So far, no decision made and no offer sheet signed."
Sanders was reportedly in Foxborough on Friday to meet with the New England brass, and apparently left with a deal in his pocket. With three seasons under his belt, Sanders was given a $1.323 RFA tender by Pittsburgh. The Steelers now have the chance to match New England's offer sheet, or would receive a third-round pick as compensation for the Patriots signing Sanders.
On Friday, veteran Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steelers reporter Ed Bouchette tweeted that, "If Pats would sign Sanders Steelers wd have to bite bullet and match."
In his three seasons the 5-11, 180-pound Sanders has 94 receptions for 1,290 yards with five touchdowns. The 25-year-old had a career-best 44 catches last fall when he played in all 16 games for Pittsburgh. He also has minimal experience returning both punts and kicks for the Steelers.
If the Steelers do not match the Patriots offer, losing the third-round pick would leave New England with just four selections heading into April's draft. As it stands right now, Bill Belichick's limited bounty of picks includes one each in the first three rounds, as well as a pair of seventh-round selections.
The potential Sanders addition comes a day after the Patriots already added former Bills receiver Donald Jones to the wide receiver depth chart, and the same week the team swapped out Wes Welker for Danny Amendola in the slot. Reports also indicate that Brandon Lloyd is negotiating to rework his deal in order to stay with the team as he is due a $3 million roster bonus today.
Do you think signing Sanders, and potentially losing a third-round pick, is worth it? Let us know with a comment below!