Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/10/13
The Patriots may have found their answer at wide receiver. Only time will tell. Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed an offer sheet on Wednesday, agreeing to join the Patriots on a one-year deal. The deal is not yet set in stone, but either way it’s a win-win in New England. Sanders is a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning the Steelers do retain some rights and will have five days to match New England’s offer. But it won’t be as simple as it sounds for Pittsburgh. The Steelers are tight up against the salary cap right now with just $2 million in free money. They still have other needs to address this offseason — running back and linebacker to name a few — and signing Sanders for the near reported $2.5 million offer. So, if the Steelers decide to reclaim Sanders, then the Patriots would have done some considerable damage to one of their biggest AFC rivals. But if the Patriots are able to come away with the shifty receiver, then their benefit will be even greater. Sanders wasn’t the most productive receiver during his three seasons in Pittsburgh, and he isn’t the most physically gifted player in football. But he has improved each year and, at 26, his best years are still ahead of him. The Patriots see definite value in his abilities — or they wouldn’t be so willing to part with such a high draft pick in the first place — and they must believe his breakout season in 2012 is just a shadow of things to come. Sanders played a full 16-game slate for the first time in his NFL career last season, finishing with a career-high 44 catches and 626 yards. His emergence gave the Steelers hope that they had a replacement for Mike Wallace, who signed with the Dolphins, already in house, and it apparently piqued the interest of the Patriots, too. Losing Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd left a sizeable gap in the Patriots’ offense. But the addition of Danny Amendola and a pair of big question marks — Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins — just isn’t going to cut it. Toss Julian Edelman back into that mix, as they did on Wednesday, and bring in a guy with as much potential as Sanders and suddenly your once barren cupboard is looking pretty stocked. There will be questions leftover, if Sanders ends up with the Patriots. Is a third-round pick worth risking on a potential one-year rental? Will Sanders continue progressing on the strides he made last season? How quickly can he and Tom Brady develop a reliable connection? All of which are fair and intriguing, but they’re also contingent on the Steelers’ cooperation. It’s likely that this situation will go down to the final hours of the Steelers’ five-day window. So, expect an epic standoff and plenty of contradicting reports until a decision is announced on Monday. But whatever the end result, the Patriots pulled a fast one on the Steelers and in turn created even more anticipation for their trip to Foxboro next season. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here. Photo via Facebook/Emmanuel Sanders
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kevin Sumlin: Texas A&M players have 'chip on their shoulder'

WATCH: Elvis Andrus steals home against Padres

Seahawks went on Hawaiian vacation to ease SB tension

Robert Kraft: Deflategate 'most overblown story' in NFL

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Jim Tressel once sent touching note to family of Michigan OL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Sony cut 'Concussion' scenes to avoid angering NFL

Ryan Clark: Trent Richardson is 'worst RB of all time'

Report: David Feherty won't be back at CBS Sports

Warren Moon: RG3 needs to start taking the blame

Lovullo: I don’t see Hanley Ramirez playing left field again in 2015

Judge Berman’s one-sentence order repeats Deflategate decision timeline

Ohio State downplays revenge talk ahead of Va. Tech rematch

WATCH: D-backs pitcher fails on quick pitch attempt

Ex-FSU WR Snoop Minnis trolls rival Florida in great way

Suspicous photo may lead to drug test for CC Sabathia

How the Houston Astros went from garbage to gold

Jack Eichel plans to move in with teammate Matt Moulson

Report: Bills GM 'went rogue’ in cutting Fred Jackson

Terrance Knighton irked by Redskins-Kardsashians comparison

Connor Cook on not being named Michigan State captain: 'It stinks'

Danny Amendola’s advice to those on roster bubble? ‘Control what you can’

Dallas Cowboys: Rookies to watch

Apple reportedly sought exclusive rights to new Bill Simmons podcast

One of Clemson’s 1981 national championship trophies broke

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker