The New England Patriots are reportedly hosting Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders for a visit on Friday and here are some details associated with why they might be doing it, and the options that the Steelers have.
The Patriots have five draft picks in 2013 for starters. One in each of the first three rounds and two seventh round picks.
The loss of Wes Welker to Denver Broncos resulted in the Patriots signing Danny Amendola to fill his role. Outside of Amendola, they have a decision to make with Brandon Lloyd, who has a $3 million bonus due Saturday. Lloyd will also turn 32 in July.
Sanders, although he hasn\’t busted out just yet, is the best route runner that the Steelers have on their roster and one of the better blocking wide receivers in the league. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick certainly would love both of those qualities and it would allow him to focus on other areas of need in the draft.
Belichick is also known for dealing picks on draft day. It would not be surprising to see him trade his first round pick in an effort to acquire a few more mid round draft picks. If that winds up being unsuccessful, he would at least have the receiver need covered.
The Patriots could easily construct a deal that would be front loaded enough in 2013 from a cap standpoint that the Steelers would have a hard time matching it without cutting another player or restructuring another contract. Something with a $3 million or more cap hit in 2013 would likely do the trick.
The Steelers would of course receive the Patriots third round draft pick as compensation, but would have yet another hole to fill at the wide receiver position with Mike Wallace also leaving a few days ago via free agency.
At this point there is nothing that the Steelers can do but wait and see if the Patriots sign him to an offer sheet. Sure they could try to get his agent on the phone and try to work out an extension quickly, but that would be mighty reactionary.