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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Patriots Sign WR Emmanuel Sanders

Wild on Sports
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Patriots Sign WR Emmanuel Sanders

Love him or hate, there is one thing football fans cannot argue; Bill Belichick is an extremely crafty football mind. Belichick was at it again on Wednesday, signing Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent WR Emmanuel Sanders to a 1 year, $2.5million offer sheet.

The deal sticks out for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the Patriots need help at wide receiver. Wes Welker left for Denver, Brandon Llyod was cut after a disappointing 2012 and the players that remain - Aaron Hernandez, Ron Gronkowski and Julian Edleman are all question marks coming off injury. The did sign Danny Amendola, an injury question mark himself, but solid option when healthy. They also added a couple lesser known players in Donald Jones and Malcolm Jenkins, but at this point it is anyone's guess if they will even be on the game 1 roster.

The crafty side in all of this is the situation that Pittsburgh now finds themselves in. They have just $2million left under the salary cap and have a number of glaring holes left to fill. If they match, they will have to make another move to get back under the cap. If they let Sanders walk, they will be given the Patriots 3rd round pick in 2013. Letting Sanders walk however would create yet another glaring hole, this time WR. They already lost Mike Wallace via free agency to Miami. Losing Sanders would leave the Steelers with just the under achieving Antonio Brown at WR.

From the Patriots stand point, giving up a 3rd round pick for one year of service is a traditionally un-Patriots like move. What many suspect is the team has a long term deal ironed out with Sanders for him to sign at some point before the 2013 season begins. There are currently no rules against extending a signed RFA provided the first year of the contract is no less than the offer sheet signed. By offering just the 1 year offer sheet the Patriots limit the compensation they would have to give up for the player.

Now the ball is in the Steelers court. Do they let a good player walk to a conference rival or do they pony up and put themselves in an even tougher position financially?

Well played Bill. Crafty indeed.

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