- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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There's movement in the restricted free agent receiver world but it doesn't involve Victor Cruz.
The New England Patriots signed Pittsburgh RFA receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Schefter reports that the offer sheet is for one year and that "the money in the offer sheet won't scare Pittsburgh." But the Steelers have five days to decide whether to match or let Sanders walk. If the Steelers don't match, they will receive a third-round pick from New England as compensation.
The RFA market had been quiet until now. Cruz, the Giants' biggest RFA, is hoping to strike a deal on a long-term extension with the Giants but the two sides have been apart. If a team wants to try to pry Cruz away from the Giants, it can make the receiver a lucrative offer -- one that likely would have to surpass $7 million a year -- by April 19. But any team hoping to land Cruz not only has to have cap space but also has to be ready to part with a first-round pick in case the Giants opt not to match.
That likely makes Cruz too pricey for any suitor. In that case, Cruz could opt to sign his one-year RFA tender for $2.879 million and then continue to work on an extension with the Giants or become an unrestricted free agent next year.
While the Patriots reportedly didn't break the bank for Sanders, they know the Steelers could decide to take the third-round pick knowing that Sanders can leave next year as an unrestricted free agent. So a one-year deal and a third-round pick seems to be an acceptable price for Sanders.
While Cruz is certainly worth a lucrative contract, a first-round pick to go with that contract likely would be hard for any team to swallow. However, if a team were to decide that Cruz was worth it, the Giants very well could take the first-round pick as compensation if they felt the offer sheet was too expensive for their taste. Remember, Jerry Reese values his picks and the Giants still hope to lock Hakeem Nicks down to a long-term extension.
Still, the odds favor that Cruz will remain a Giant for at least one more season and that both sides will continue to work on a potential deal. We just have to wait nine more days to see what happens.
Edelman re-signs: It is a busy day for the Patriots, who re-signed Julian Edelman as well.
The Giants had Edelman in for a visit last week and Edelman would have been a nice addition as a receiver who can excel in the slot and return punts and kickoffs. The Giants are looking for veterans for minimum deals and they will have to continue to search for bargains to fill out the roster. They currently have Nicks, Cruz, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan at receiver. Domenik Hixon signed with Carolina and Ramses Barden remains an unrestricted free agent.
Tell us how you are feeling about Cruz with nine days left for teams to make an RFA offer.