Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has not signed an offer sheet -- as yet -- with the New England Patriots, despite published reports that said he has.
The Patriots have made no announcement on Sanders.
They have enough cap room to make Sanders an offer the Steelers, who have very little cap room, could not or would not match. However, the Patriots would have to give up a third-round pick in exchange for Sanders and that would leave them exceeding slim in the draft. They have only five picks in the upcoming draft: one in the first, second and third rounds and two in the seventh.
What is interesting, if not amazing, about this story is the way Sanders' stock has soared since the Patriots, who are rebuilding their wide receiving corps after losing Wes Welker in free agency, have shown a keen interest.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com wrote, ``Sanders' proven ability to get deep would add some necessary speed to the team's wide receiver position.’’
At ESPNBoston.com, former scout Field Yates wrote, ``I can recall scouting Sanders leading up to the 2010 draft while working for the Chiefs, and my impressions of him as a player were that he was an excellent change-of-direction athlete who was a productive slot player for a high-octane offense at SMU.
Yates also wrote that Scott Pioli, former Kansas City Chiefs general manager and Patriots personnel director, ``opined that landing Sanders in a fair-market-value deal would be a coup for the Patriots, as he views him as an underrated talent on the free agent market and superior to any receiver the Patriots could acquire in the third round of this year's draft.’’
So Sanders has gone in Pittsburgh from being a passable third receiver who might not be good enough to be a No. 2 to a ``proven’’ deep threat whose acquisition would be a ``coup’’ for the Patriots.
The next move belongs to the Patriots and it might be nothing. If Sanders does sign an offer sheet, the Steelers have a week to match it.
Considering Sanders’ inconsistent play, his history of injury and the salary-cap issues involved, the guess here is the Steelers will not counter a New England offer, if one is forthcoming, and move forward with the additional third-round draft choice.
Such a happening would force them to so something low cost in free agency for a WR and make the position more of a priority in the draft.
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In other Steelers news, tight end Matt Spaeth, released by the Bears Wednesday, has signed with the Steelers, for whom he played from 2007-10, according to reports. There’s been nothing official from the team. As a Steelers, Spaeth served as a backup to Heath Miller. He caught 36 passes in four seasons. He caught 13 with in two seasons with Chicago.
Running back Beanie Wells, linebacker Victor Butler and tight end Kellen Davis visited Friday but left without contracts -- as yet.