Emmanuel Sanders 2014 NFL Free Agency Destination: New England Patriots


December 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) reacts after making pass reception for a first down against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Missing out once on a player almost never deters good teams from getting them if the chances keep coming.  The New England Patriots had their eyes on Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders in NFL free agency but couldn’t reel him in.  If another opportunity arises will they strike gold?

Mike Wallace issue not teaching Steelers any lessons on Sanders

Letting talented receivers go is nothing new to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They don’t pay for players they deem too expensive.  It happened with Plaxico Burress in 2005, Santonio Holmes in 2009 and again with Mike Wallace in 2013. Pittsburgh has always felt they can build their teams through drafting and development.  However, their move to keep young receiver Emmanuel Sanders in house despite a hard push from other teams to sign him smelled less of prudent planning and more of desperation.  After losing Wallace they knew they couldn’t afford Sanders leaving too, so they matched the offer on his restricted contract put up by New England.  At least for one more season quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will have two reliable targets.  The question is do they plan to keep Sanders long-term?  Having drafted rookies Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown, one might say Pittsburgh merely kept him for an extra year to buy time in order to develop those two youngsters.  If so, does the 26-year old leave when he gets a second chance in 2014?

Patriots receivers look shaky around Tom Brady

Everywhere one stares on the New England Patriots offense there is no sense of certainty.  For a team that scored 34 points per game in 2012, the upheaval in their receiving corps has left quarterback Tom Brady wondering how effective he can be in 2013.  Star tight end Rob Gronkowski has undergone two off-season surgeries while his teammate Aaron Hernandez is embroiled in an ongoing murder investigation.  All-Pro Wes Welker left for Denver while his replacement Danny Amendola comes in with more speed but less durability.  Beyond that there are rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce along with veterans Mike Jenkins and Donald Jones filling out the depth chart.  Looking at that group one can understand why the Patriots took a shot at Emmanuel Sanders who would’ve been the perfect replacement for Welker given his speed, agility and hands.  His 44 catches for 626 yards was career high last season despite only starting seven games.

If the Patriots get another shot at him they better take it because things don’t look good for their vaunted passing attack at present.