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Signing Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders To A One-Year Offer Sheet Is A Win-Win Move By The Patriots


Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert probably isn\'t shocked that the New England Patriots decided to sign restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet. After all, it is only the third time since 2001 that it has happened.

In 2001, the Patriots signed Steelers restricted free agent running back Chris Fuamatu- Ma\'afala to a one-year, $700,000 offer sheet that Colbert decided to match. Just one week later they signed him to a three-year deal worth $2.7 million that included a $750,000 signing bonus.

In 2004, the Patriots signed Steelers defensive end Rodney Bailey to a one year, $1.3 million offer sheet that included $650,000 guaranteed. The Steelers chose not to match it and received the Patriots sixth-round draft as compensation.

This year, the Patriots signed Sanders to a one-year offer sheet worth $2.5 million. It really is a shrewd move by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who clearly sees Sanders as a player that would be an asset to his offense.

So why a one-year deal and not a longer-term deal? Surely the Patriots don\'t plan on renting Sanders for one year for their third-round pick, right?

For starters, the Patriots likely have a long-term deal ready to be signed by Sanders should the Steelers decide not to match. They can\'t lower the first-year guaranteed money that Sanders is to get on his offer sheet, but they can add to it and thus keep his first-year cap hit very manageable in the process.

Second, by giving Sanders a long-term offer sheet that is front loaded, they are locking themselves into a situation that might hurt not only hurt their cap this year, but next year as well. In addition to that, should the Steelers decide to match the offer, the Patriots would have no chance at signing him next offseason.

There is a good faith gesture here as well by the Patriots. Should the Steelers match the one-year offer sheet, and not work out a long-term deal by next offseason, Sanders would become an unrestricted free agent and not likely to forget the team that got him a raise the year before.

The worst-case scenario for the Patriots is still a pretty good one as they would force the Steelers to use nearly another $1.2 million of the $1.9 million plus that they currently have at their disposal. It also might cause a little contempt between Sanders and the Steelers because the wide receiver would know that he had money waiting on the table for him in New England. Think about that for a minute.

As soon as the Patriots signed Sanders to an offer sheet, they also announced that they had signed wide receiver Julian Edelman to a one-year deal as well. This at least assures them one extra wide receiver will be under contract with the possibility of two.

The timing of the whole thing is perfect in addition to the aforementioned. Should the Steelers decide to match, the Patriots will have plenty of time before the draft to look a little closer at some draft hopeful wide receivers.

All in all, it\'s a win-win deal for the Patriots, and Colbert probably is already aware of it. He now has a pretty big decision ahead of him that needs to be made by Sunday evening.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • LucasY59

    I think it is a win for the Steelers and a loss for the hateriots,

    Belicheat will have one less pick this year which gives them 3 picks in the draft (1st, 2nd & 7th not a long term way to improve a team) they pay a player 2.5 mil that the Steelers only valued at 1.3 (wish they wouldve used a higher tender (2nd rd) NE would still pay 2.5 mil and Steelers would’ve received a 2nd rounder)

    Steelers get a extra 3rd rd pick (one of the more valuable rounds to have an extra pick IMO) and get 1.3 mil in cap space

  • hergieburbur

    Funny, this was almost exactly (sans the history), the first thing I said when I heard about the offer.

  • hergieburbur

    I am not sure they would have offered him a deal on a 2nd round tender.

  • hergieburbur

    Interesting thing about this, if they get Sanders, that basically leaves them with Amendola, Sanders and Edelman as their top three. None of those guys is a number one and most are better as #3s.

  • LucasY59

    true, that’s why its a wish, I still think the 3rd is fair compensation though

  • DerpinDickard

    I would say take the pick. Sanders is good but in this draft the pick is better. This is a deep draft where the value of a 3rd is almost the same as the 2nd and with two 3rd rounders it adds depth for a team that needs it. Plus the pick does give them some flexibility in the 1st too. It allows them the option to trade that second 3rd to move up a few spots and secure the guy they really want.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    The Patriots made a smart move. Regardless of whether we sign him or not. They either draft a young WR. Or get a solid proven WR at a decent price, while damaging a rival at the same time.

    The only way the Patriots lose if Sanders gets hurt. But that can be said of any deal.

  • Nigel Walker

    why not keep him and then try to trade him for a third round pick and another pick either this year or next year.

  • Nolrog

    It makes no sense to offer Sanders a 1-year deal and then immediatly turn around and sign him to an extension that keeps the first year the same. I don’t see how that’s in any way an advantage over giving him that multi-year deal in the first place.

  • zyzak

    They don’t have a second rd pick this year

  • zyzak

    I’m excited because this makes Burress a starter again

  • James

    If any other team thought he was worth a 3rd round pick they would have put in an offer sheet as well

  • Nigel Walker

    try and trade him to the pats

  • NW86

    If they match the 1 year deal, it will be over after this year. You can’t “trade” a guy who is already a free agent.
    If they give him a long-term deal, it will certainly have to include a signing bonus and more guaranteed money. Trading him then would leave dead money behind against the 2014 cap.

  • r4kolb

    For all those excited about this 3rd round pick, let’s not forget it is a late 3rd round pick. Don’t get me wrong as I’ve said in other posts in my eyes Sanders is an average receiver and can be replaced.

  • Nigel Walker

    i’ll try to be clear.i think its a 50/50 situation weather the steelers keep him or not. so why not sign him and see if the pats are willing to give up more in a trade this off season. if not keep him for the year then try to resign him or let him go for the compo pick.

  • Nolrog

    It’s also win-win for the Steelers. Either they match and keep Sanders at a reasonable price or the take the pick (in what’s said to be a very deep draft) which opens up many options from selecting someone to trading up in the draft to moving the pick for another player.

  • steeltown

    Some people are saying that the 3RD Rd pick is a late Rd compensation and that it is not a good pick to acquire.. Jermichael Finley and Navarro Bowman were previously 91st overall picks… im ONLY SAYING I think any pick in the TOP 100 is a valuable pick

    Not saying we should let Sanders walk, Ive become indifferent and will trust the FO in this situation, if they have long term plans then great, if not, I’ll welcome another (Top 100) pick

  • TsarPepe

    You do realize that for every name of a successful 3rd rounder, people can cite several busts?

  • TsarPepe

    Don’t forget: the Pats would look stupid if they have, say, a 5-year deal ready for Sanders and the Steelers get to keep him by matching the 1-st year amount. They can front-load it, of course, but obviously they are cheap (as always) and don’t want to overpay for an unproven commodity. A one-year deal is a brilliant move.

  • steeltown

    Its funny how, in the last few days NFL and ESPN ‘analysts’ are praising E.Sanders and saying we “better match the offer” ,yet as we all know Sanders is really still unproven up until this point. If he wasnt, the Steelers would never have tendered him at that level and most likely he wouldve been extended after Wallace departed. I feel as if nobody on the outside looking in knew who Sanders was before this whole debacle and now he is a ‘proven commodity’ in the eyes of NFL nation. Dont get me wrong, I feel as if Sanders best games are ahead of him, but lets not prematurely anoint him a level a greatness that his play and production have not garnered

  • steeltown

    Of course, the road goes both ways

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    Exactly. If the Steelers match the offer, the Pats win because………..???

  • walter mason

    I think a 3rd round pick is the best we can expect.

  • Buccos9

    If they now decide to pay Sanders the $2.5 million, it makes me wonder why they gambled by giving him the third round tender. Yes, it would have raised the cap by $700,000, but if they like the guy that much, it would have been better to avoid the risk that some team might sign him to an offer sheet. It’s highly unlikely somebody gives up a second round pick for Sanders. Now, if the Steelers match, the cap has gone up by another $1.2 million instead of $700,000. If this happens with McLendon too, the front office needs to revisit the way it treats restricted free agents that it values. If they never had any intention of matching offer sheets for any of their restricted free agents, including Sanders and McLendon, then it validates the tenders they gave them and I have no problem with their approach.

  • steeltown

    I agree… and IF they did ultimately lose him under the higher tender, they’d be looking at acquiring a 2nd Rd pick instead of a 3rd..

    It really does make you wonder how much they value Sanders

  • walter mason

    Steelers lose if they are forced to pay Saunders more than they needed to.

  • http://twitter.com/softdrums Shea Fahr

    Yes and another important factor at work here is I think after watching the rest of the young money crew get paid, Sanders wants his now.

  • Michael Wheeler

    The Pats and Steelers are in the EXACT SAME position. One team gets #91, the other team gets Sanders for $2.5M…the only difference is right now it is the Steelers choice who gets what.

  • steeltown

    True.. I hope he knows his production (atleast in the TD catigory) along with his chronic foot issues will not help his case

  • Nolrog

    I don’t see that as a loss. 2.5 is not an unreasonable contract for Sanders. More than the tender, but it’s now what they need to pay him to keep him.

  • Pete

    Great analysis. Thanks!

  • Pete

    You can say that about every round. Look at how many players are out of the league within 5 years. The draft is a crap shoot with no guarantees.

  • Pete

    The choice isn’t voluntary for the Steelers. They have no choice but to pay Sanders a minimum of 2.5 mil or let him go for the 3rd round pick. The Patriots have forced the Steelers to choose one of the options. This is a great move by the Patriots.

  • James

    ESPN can’t help but go overboard with the Patriots (and now Denver). If Sanders was signing with Oakland or Chicago or wherever, no one would even be talking about it. But since it’s New England, suddenly it’s a genius move. I do agree that Sanders’ best days are ahead of him, but he’s also been in the league for 3 seasons without proving himself as a consistent player. I would like to see him stick around, but won’t lose any sleep if he goes.

  • James

    double yoi

  • David Edward

    Still with you on this Steeltown. I think the media and some fans are overreacting because of all of the FA departures. Sanders has suddenly become a “must have” in many people’s eyes. Really, though, he reminds me of another former Steelers 3rd round WR…Ernie Mills. He did some good things at times and disappointed at others. All in all he was ok but nothing special. There is no reason to believe they can’t replace Sanders with a draft pick if they draft properly. I think many fear that a rookie WR won’t be able to start right away. That is probably true, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be an impact player in year one…Wallace was, Brown was at the end of rookie year. It also doesn’t mean that Cotchery suddenly forgot how to play, he’s a capable possesion WR.

  • JohnnyV1

    A lot can change in a year. Maybe Sanders has a bad year. Maybe Sanders sustains a serious injury (ACL, more serious foot fracture, etc). Maybe Patriots draft a WR, or pick up an undrafted rookie FA who’s solid, then their need for Sanders drops.

  • SixburghFan

    I apologize if someone has already brought this up but here’s a conspiracy theory thought. What if the Pats want both Sanders and McLendon, perhaps wanting McLendon even more than Sanders. So… they put this offer out on Sanders to get us to have to pay more than we want to keep him. Then… they swoop in right after and make an offer for McLendon that we now cannot match because we just used a bunch on Sanders. They get at least one of the guys they want and maybe both.

  • Douglas Puckett

    I have to disagree, Amendola with Brady will be a house hold name. Pick him up in fantasy leagues

  • Steelers32

    It just could be he was dangled out there as bait so to speak, if no takers not so bad, he is a good receiver ,, if there is a taker they would rather the 3rd round pick.

    If they had put a 2nd on him there would be no takers, which leads me to believe they wanted the pick more than the player.

  • charles

    Burress is an old mike wallace. If he is a starter then the Steelers will have gotten worse in the offseason. Hopefully you were just kidding.

  • hergieburbur

    IF he can stay on the field.

  • LucasY59

    looks like the Young Money Crew has turned into the One Money Crew

  • LucasY59

    Anyone that Belicheat is interested in turns into one of the best players in the league by sports news talking heads, anyone that really knows anything isn’t making a big deal about this, it is one of the least impressive offseason signings. there just wasnt much else to talk about. If the Steelers match its ok if they let him go its ok. I like Sanders but I also like the Idea of an extra pick in the 3rd and one less pick for the hateriots

  • LucasY59

    he wont earn a third rd comp pick as a UFA, plus they wouldn’t receive the pick until 2015. The best value the Steelers are going to get is by not matching the offer and taking the third rd pick

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