When we passed along the report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying Emmanuel Sanders had signed an offer sheet with the Patriots, we noted that there was no information about the terms of Sanders’ offer sheet, and that no other media outlets had confirmed the report.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there’s a good reason for that: Sanders hasn’t actually signed an offer sheet with the Patriots. The Observer-Reporter also reported that Sanders left New England without signing.
The Patriots are still considering whether to make an offer to Sanders, which would require them to give the Steelers their third-round draft pick if they didn’t match the offer and allowed Sanders to go.
The Patriots have more cap space than the Steelers this season, so it wouldn’t be hard for New England to structure the contract in a way that makes for a big cap hit in 2013, which the Steelers would have a hard time matching. But if the Patriots add Sanders they’ll also lose their third-round draft pick. And they’ve already traded away their fourth-round pick for Aqib Talib, their fifth-round pick for Albert Haynesworth and their sixth-round pick for Chad Ochocinco.
Right now, the Patriots are still considering whether they want to give up a third-round pick for Sanders.