Sanders was given an original round tender in restricted free agency. The Patriots lost WR Wes Welker already, and are thin at the position.
Restricted free agency is barely utilized in terms of teams making offers for the RFAs on other teams. Whether the Patriots are legitimately interested, or they’re just yanking the Steelers’ chain, they are reportedly visiting with Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Sanders was given an original round (third) tender offer in restricted free agency, meaning he has the right to sign an offer sheet with another team. If he does that, the Steelers have seven days to match or decline to match the offer. The offer sheet then becomes a binding contract, and the Steelers would receive the Patriots’ third round selection in this draft.
The Patriots are known for some movement in restricted free agency, though. Most notably, they visited with, and eventually worked out a trade for then-Dolphins WR Wes Welker in 2007. The two teams worked out a trade, sending Welker to the Patriots. Coincidentally, Welker just left New England for Denver, leaving the Patriots perilously thin at the wide receiver position.