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Emmanuel Sanders nearly signed with Patriots

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It didn't take long for Emmanuel Sanders to learn that he landed in "wide receiver heaven" with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

A bit of a tease in Pittsburgh for four years, Sanders has cleared the century mark four times in his last six games and is coming off a career-best performance in Thursday's win over the Chargers.

Just as the Lions have been lifted by the acquisition of Golden Tate, the Broncos have hit the jackpot with Sanders.

If Sanders hadn't switched agents prior to the 2014 free agency period, though, he might have ended up on a different AFC contender.

As a restricted free agent under player representative Jordan Woy, Sanders signed an offer sheet with the Patriots in 2013 -- only to see the Steelers match. He drew interest again from New England last March but couldn't find common ground on contract terms.

"Emmanuel loved it there," current agent Steve Weinberg told CSN New England's Tom Curran on Friday. "He said, 'Give me Danny Amendola's deal and I'm there.'"

Amendola signed for $28.5 million over five years, with $10 million in guarantees. Sanders ended up in Denver for $18 million over three years, with just $6 million in guarantees.

"New England was competitive throughout the process," Weinberg added. "Had they been aggressive from the beginning it would have gotten done, but, in this market, nobody knew what to do with the wide receivers."

In an interesting twist, Sanders appeared to be the Pats' first option while the Broncos were concentrating on Brandon LaFell.

When Denver general manager John Elway swooped in to steal Sanders away from the Chiefs, Pats and Bucs, New England reacted by re-signing Julian Edelman to a four-year, $17 million deal ($8 million guaranteed) and adding LaFell at $9 million over three years ($3 million guaranteed).

If not for a pair of twists of fate over the past two offseasons, Sanders could have fixed Tom Brady's long-standing need for a field-stretching wide receiver.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews every Week 8 game, and breaks down the Broncos' win over the Chargers. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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