Pats sign Sanders to offer sheet
The New England Patriots have signed Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free-agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet, a league source said.
The source said the offer sheet is a one-year deal. The Steelers have five days to decide whether to match the offer or let Sanders go to the Patriots and receive a third-round draft choice from New England in return.
The money in the offer sheet won't scare Pittsburgh, sources said. But Sanders can leave in a year as an unrestricted free agent. Instead of risking losing him with no compensation after the 2012 season, the Steelers could opt to take New England's third-round pick now.
Sanders, 26, is a quick, athletic receiver who caught a career-high 44 passes in 2012, doubling his production from the previous season.
He received an original-round tender from the Steelers only because of the team's salary-cap restraints this offseason.
Sanders was expected to replace Mike Wallace, who signed with the Miami Dolphins this offseason, in the starting lineup opposite Antonio Brown.
The only Steelers wide receivers with any experience right now are Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Plaxico Burress and David Gilreath.
The Patriots have a need at receiver after losing Wes Welker in free agency to the Denver Broncos and releasing Brandon Lloyd.