Emmanuel Sanders visits New England Patriots


The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't re-sign wide receiver Mike Wallace in part because they knew they had Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders in place. But what if they lose Sanders?

Sanders visited the New England Patriots on Friday. There were conflicting conflicting reports afterward about whether or not the speedster had signed an offer sheet with the team, but NFL.com's Ian Rapoport later reported the wide receiver still hasn't signed an offer from the Patriots. On Sunday, Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest reported that Steelers GM Kevin Colbert hadn't received an offer sheet from New England yet for Sanders, which means Sanders hasn't signed anything.

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Restricted free agents like Sanders rarely change teams these days, but the Patriots can use some of their salary-cap room to make a front-loaded offer, which Pittsburgh could find tough to match.

If Sanders does sign an offer sheet from the Patriots, the Steelers would have seven days to match it. If they choose not to, the Patriots would send a third-round draft pick in 2013 to the Steelers.

Sanders would join a rebuilt Patriots wide receiver group alongside new signees Danny Amendola and Donald Jones. Sanders' proven ability to get deep would add some necessary speed to the team's wide receiver position.

New England's interest in Sanders certainly does not bode well for the future of Brandon Lloyd. The Patriots have to make a decision in the next week about whether to give Lloyd his roster bonus or cut him loose.

Sanders set career highs with 44 catches and 626 yards in 2012, starting seven games for the Steelers. He was slated to be a starter with the Steelers this season.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.