Emmanuel Sanders appeared to be a trade-deadline target for the Patriots this season as they looked to bolster their pass-catching corps, but New England’s interest in the veteran wide receiver actually dates back several years.

The Patriots extended an offer sheet in March 2013 to Sanders, who was a restricted free agent that offseason. Unfortunately for New England, the Pittsburgh Steelers matched the offer and retained Sanders for the 2013 campaign. Sanders eventually hit the open market the following spring and landed in Denver, where he’d play the next five-plus seasons of his career before being traded to San Francisco this past October.

Sanders, who will be appearing in his third career Super Bowl on Sunday when the 49ers meet the Kansas City Chiefs, doesn’t seem to be dwelling on never yet having the opportunity to catch passes from Tom Brady. That said, the two-time Pro Bowl selection is fairly confident he’d be bound for Canton had he ended up in a Patriots uniform seven years ago.

“If I had went to New England, I probably would’ve been a Hall of Famer,” Sanders said Monday, per NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry. “I probably would’ve been a Hall of Famer. That was, what, my third year in the league? Tom (Brady) would’ve had, what, seven more years left? How many Super Bowls have they won from then?

“But it didn’t work out. That’s not the plan that God wanted for me. I don’t regret anything. Year 10. Third Super Bowl. I’m blessed, man.”

For what it’s worth, Sanders’ contract is set to expire in the coming months. The 32-year-old might be past his prime, but given the current landscape of the Patriots’ receiver depth chart, maybe the franchise will take another crack at pursuing him.

Thumbnail photo via Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports Images