The Patriots are making a move for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Sanders, a restricted free agent from the Steelers, has signed an offer sheet with the Patriots, according to multiple reports.
That means the Steelers will have five days to either match the Patriots’ offer and keep Sanders, or decline to match it and let Sanders become a Patriot. If the Steelers don’t match, they get the Patriots’ third-round draft pick, No. 91 overall.
The offer is reportedly a one-year contract. The Patriots have more cap space than the Steelers this season, so it wouldn’t be hard for New England to offer Sanders a higher salary in 2013 than the Steelers can afford to pay. But if the Patriots send the Steelers their third-round draft pick they’ll be almost out of ammunition in the draft: 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.
Sanders visited the Patriots a month ago, and the possibility that he could land in New England has been much-discussed since then. If the Steelers don’t match, then the Patriots have taken a big step toward filling the gaps in their receiving corps, and the Steelers — who have already lost Mike Wallace in free agency — will be down two of their top three wide receivers.