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Pats bide their time with Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders Getty Images

Not long after free agency launched, the Patriots brought in receiver Emmanuel Sanders for a visit.  When an offer sheet wasn’t quickly signed, many assumed that it wouldn’t be.

But there’s no hurry, yet.  As Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com explains it, the Pats (and every other team) have until April 19 to sign any restricted free agent to an offer sheet.  The player’s current team then would have five days (down from seven under past labor deals) to match.

In Sanders’ case, the Patriots would have to give up a third-round pick if the Steelers won’t or can’t match.  Yates surmises that the Patriots may be waiting for the Steelers to make another move or two, which could make it harder to match a frontloaded offer.  Delay, however, gives the Steelers more time to get their salary-cap ducks in a row, plotting moves that would be made if they suddenly have 120 hours to clear enough cap space to keep Sanders.

Few teams sign restricted free agents to offer sheets.  Some think it makes no sense to negotiate a contract that the player’s current team will simply match.  Others believe teams don’t want to part with draft picks.  Some (OK, me and possibly no one else) suspect that teams are subtly colluding when it comes to restricted free agents.

Regardless, more than three weeks remain before this year’s RFA market officially closes.  Even if it never actually opens.

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34 Responses to “Pats bide their time with Emmanuel Sanders”
  1. benroethlisberger7 says: Mar 25, 2013 7:35 PM

    He can’t catch. You can have him.

  2. billygoat says: Mar 25, 2013 7:37 PM

    So basically you don’t know what’s going on.

  3. dietrich43 says: Mar 25, 2013 7:37 PM

    Maybe BB doesnt want to give a front loaded contract, which he would have to overpay to prevent the Steelers from matching, and his third round pick, for a player who only had 40-some receptions last year.

  4. profootballwalk says: Mar 25, 2013 7:39 PM

    Belichick isn’t a guy who leaves chips on the table. If Sanders can help him win, he’ll make him an offer. Remember Jake Ballard? Media hacks claimed that there was a ‘gentleman’s agreement.’ So much for that. These are billion dollar businesses competing with each other – they’re all in.

  5. muzwell says: Mar 25, 2013 7:39 PM

    Not sure I understand why the Pats and Steelers might collude? What incentive does New England have to help a rival keep one of their players?

  6. zclorz says: Mar 25, 2013 7:46 PM

    Pats should be bold and go for V. Cruz. That’ll make fans quickly forget about Welker leaving and give TB12 a legit weapon.

    Take the first round pick, I don’t want another Ras-I- Dowling.

  7. charger88 says: Mar 25, 2013 7:47 PM

    The Pats are waiting for Harrison to come down off his high horse and re-sign which might strap the Steelers for some cash. Who knows. Florio obviously does not.

  8. Stiller43 says: Mar 25, 2013 7:52 PM

    If they want to give up one of their few draft picks (a high one, too) and give a large contract to a WR who averages about 30 catches a year, i’d be surprised. I think the pats are smarter than that.

    They could easily just draft a comparable WR in the 3rd round for much cheaper.

  9. dalucks says: Mar 25, 2013 7:53 PM

    I can see the strategy by New England to wait until the 18th of April to sign Sanders. It makes alot of sense and considering the Steelers only gave him a 3rd round tender probably means Pittsburgh does not value Sanders alot.
    It looks like Sanders and Amendola will be the new starting receivers for the Patriots.

  10. monstersofthemidway545051 says: Mar 25, 2013 7:58 PM

    It is just you. It’s called good business.

  11. psmith7716 says: Mar 25, 2013 8:04 PM

    I am of the opinion that Sanders will eventually resign with the Steelers.

  12. ravenmuscle says: Mar 25, 2013 8:05 PM

    That would bring the total of Patriot draft picks down from 5 to FOUR.

    Would be fun to watch Bilichick maneuver around the draft board with FOUR picks.

  13. ampats says: Mar 25, 2013 8:07 PM

    Bill Belichick plays chess while the rest of tthe NFL GM’s play checkers

  14. finsfan4life1977 says: Mar 25, 2013 8:08 PM

    “Yates surmises that the Patriots may be waiting for the Steelers to make another move or two, which could make it harder to match a frontloaded offer.”

    Industry rule number 4080, the New England Patriots are shady…

  15. mpnieland says: Mar 25, 2013 8:16 PM

    I don’t understand why more teams don’t sign players to offer sheets. Think about it like this, would you rather have a proven guy with lots of upside for a 3rd rounder or take a chance on a guy right out of college for that same pick?

    If I were a team like the Vikings with a 1st round pick, I’d be signing Victor Cruz in a heartbeat to steal him away from the Giants. He’s proven in 3 years that he’s a top notch slot receiver. You’d gladly use a 1st rounder in the draft if you know you’d be getting a guy like that. So why not steal him away from a team and give him good money? It’s not like he’s a washed up veteran, he’s in the prime of his career.

    Same is true of Sanders except he’s a better bargain.

    Maybe stealing RFA is seen as a huge faux pas in league circles and that’s why. But to me it’s the ultimate “proven player” vs. “potential lottery pick” choice. I just don’t know why everyone seems to want to play the lotto.

  16. soxfan34110 says: Mar 25, 2013 8:23 PM

    More Belichick Jedi mind games. They won’t make an offer until the 11th hour. Even if they never actually make an offer they still made the Steelers believe they would. Great strategy!

  17. mempusa says: Mar 25, 2013 8:33 PM

    The chess match of the offseason is often as entertaining as the one during

  18. randomcommenter says: Mar 25, 2013 8:48 PM

    Clearly the Pats can’t drink the wine in front of the Steelers.

  19. eventhorizon04 says: Mar 25, 2013 8:53 PM

    “Not sure I understand why the Pats and Steelers might collude? What incentive does New England have to help a rival keep one of their players?”

    The theory behind the suspicion of collusion is that a team like the Patriots making a play for a restricted free agent like Sanders benefits the player (since multiple teams are bidding for him) but hurts the owner/team (because player prices go up.)

    In addition, the Steelers could retaliate by making a play for a Patriots restricted free agent next year, and then the Patriots will be forced to pay more money to keep their player next year.

    So, the theory is that NFL owners have an informal agreement not to poach restricted free agents from each other (collusion). That prevents bidding wars and retaliation by the losers.

  20. gettingpwned says: Mar 25, 2013 9:38 PM

    I love how florio patrols his cements section on here. My last one didn’t post which basically said this was the sites second Steelers trolling article of the day and held zero news in it.

  21. skiss68 says: Mar 25, 2013 10:02 PM

    I agree 100 percent the teams are colluding. You cant tell me that Percy is worth 3 draft picks including a first and Victor Cruz isnt worth a first rounder. The Falcons gave up 2 first round picks for Julio Jones. COME ON MAN!!!

  22. ravenator says: Mar 25, 2013 10:15 PM

    Steelers lose sanders and their fans say have him. He stays a Steeler and he’s a burner. Pathetic.

  23. tedmurph says: Mar 25, 2013 10:20 PM

    I gotta think the Pats are still planning on doing this. They lost WWelker, BLloyd, JEdelmann and DBranch. They replaced them so far with DAmendola and DJones. That’s a lot of yardage replaced by a couple of relatively unproven, injury prone guys. They could barely line up at WR right now. It would be hard to draft someone for this complicated, option route offense and plug them right in. If they do make ESanders an offer, it’s because they think he could be the next breakout guy for their offense, with his footwork and quickness, a la WWelker. That’s why it would be worth a 3rd and the contract. They can always trade their 1rst rnd pick to stock back up, I doubt there are 29 players on their board with 1rst rnd grades and there’s gonna be a market for teams that want the 2nd/3rd QB in this draft.

  24. tedmurph says: Mar 25, 2013 10:25 PM

    As far as collusion goes, the Pats proved last yr when the Giants tried to stash Ballard on IR, they don’t care about these ‘wink-wink’ gentleman’s agreement deals. If they want a guy and a team makes him available, they go get him. The Pats wouldn’t expect any less if they exposed someone.

  25. matthewcarlson1 says: Mar 25, 2013 11:53 PM

    Tom Brady is the only reason the Patriots are any good. The great hoodie isn’t very good at drafting people imo. He got lucky with Brady, don’t even tell me he knew he would be this good. Unless Ryan Mallett is the next Aaron Rodgers/Steve Young the Patriots are going to be in rough shape when Brady retires.

  26. jeremycrowhurst says: Mar 26, 2013 1:15 AM

    You win Super Bowls by getting $150m worth of play from the $120m in salaries that you spend. (Though blown coverage on a last second Hail Mary admittedly helps.)

    When you sign a guy like Sanders or Cruz for their value, you aren’t likely to get much in the way of upside, and you give up the chance to find a guy who’s a $5m player on an entry-level contract.

    The Patriots aren’t a wide receiver away from winning it all. Their pass defence has been among the worst in the league for three years now. In 2011, their defense overall gave up more yards than the 0-16 Lions did.

    They need those picks more than Brady needs another target.

  27. jikkle49 says: Mar 26, 2013 6:08 AM

    There isn’t collusion going on with RFAs and it’s a case the media overvaluing players and underestimating how much teams value their draft picks.

    The RFAs worth going after are usually tendered 3rd round and up and teams like the kind of players they can get in rounds 1-3.

    So not a lot of teams are inclined to give up 4-5 years of cheap help and than give up a big contract for a player.

  28. swagger52 says: Mar 26, 2013 7:20 AM

    I can’t wait for Brady to be biding time in the pocket waiting for Amendola to get open….Stage right…stage left…in comes Suggs and Elvis.

  29. razzlejag says: Mar 26, 2013 7:55 AM

    Maybe he didn’t think your cement had any value.

  30. changeup39 says: Mar 26, 2013 8:34 AM

    I agree, its awfully suspicious. Teams very likely may be colluding.

  31. infectorman says: Mar 26, 2013 9:19 AM

    I really hope they resign Lloyd.
    For all his shortcomings in YAC, he did post reasonable production in an offense that notoriously spreads the ball around.
    NE has always been what GB has become – a mystery as to which receiving weapon will have a standout game from week to week.
    With Wes gone this trend will only expand, provided the 2 young TE’s can stay on the field.

  32. ziggy26 says: Mar 26, 2013 9:45 AM

    So let me understand this, Field Yates is suggesting that the Patriots would be willing to give up a third-round pick and a big, front-loaded contract to acquire a player who has averaged 31 receptions, 430 yards, and 1.3 TDs in his first three seasons? A player who has dealt with foot injuries in each of his first three years?

    I don’t see it. It doesn’t make a much sense, especially when you consider the fact that the Pats only have 5 draft picks this year, two of which are 7th rounders.

    That’s the difference between this scenario and the one that brought Welker to NE. The Pats don’t have draft picks to spend, and they can either pay a lot for Sanders or draft a rookie and save a tremendous amount.

  33. giantssb42champs says: Mar 26, 2013 12:59 PM

    Bill Belichick plays chess while the rest of tthe NFL GM’s play checkers
    ——————-
    Hey look! BB just double moved when the other GMs looked away from the board.

  34. bikelikemike says: Mar 27, 2013 1:10 PM

    tedmurph says: Mar 25, 2013 10:20 PM

    I gotta think the Pats are still planning on doing this. They lost WWelker, BLloyd, JEdelmann and DBranch.
    ———————————————————–
    Why do morons get to post here? When did the Pats lose Edelman and Branch?

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