Steelers match Patriots' offer, retain WR Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders will remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who on Sunday matched the New England Patriots' offer sheet for the free-agent wide receiver.

The decision was announced six hours before the Steelers' deadline on Sanders' offer.

Emmanuel Sanders: He remains with the Steelers. (AP Photo)
"Glad the business side is out of the way," Sanders posted on his Twitter account Sunday. "Now it's back to playing football and bringing number 7 back to Pittsburgh."

— James Harrison, Bengals talk deal | video: Which team needed Sanders more?

The offer, for one year at $2.5 million, was announced April 10. The Patriots hoped to land Sanders for their depleted receiver corps. The deal works for the Steelers, who are tight against the salary cap.

Had they not matched, the Steelers would have landed the Patriots' third-round pick, 91st overall, in the 2013 NFL Draft as compensation. The draft begins April 25 with Round 1, followed by Rounds 2 and 3 on April 26 and the final four rounds on April 27.

Sanders, a Steelers third-round pick in 2010, was a valuable third receiver for the team behind top route-runner Antonio Brown and speedster Mike Wallace. After Wallace signed with the Miami Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent in March, Sanders was in line for a larger role if he stayed in Pittsburgh.

Last season, Sanders (5-11, 180 pounds) had a career-high 44 catches for 626 yards and one TD.

The one-year deal means Sanders is in line to become an unrestricted free agent in 2014. The expectation is his handlers and Steelers brass will discuss a long-term contract, especially because it could help lower Sanders' cap number for 2013.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are in the midst of their own overhaul at wideout. Prolific receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd are gone, and they signed Danny Amendola to replace Welker.

The Steelers still might need more targets for QB Ben Roethlisberger. With the No. 17 overall pick in this month's draft, they would have a shot at a top wide receiver prospect, including West Virginia's Tavon Austin, Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson and California's Keenan Allen.

Meanwhile, the Patriots boosted their receiving corps by re-signing Julian Edelman, who got a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Edelman visited the New York Giants earlier in the month.

In addition to Amendola and Edelman, the Patriots' receiving unit also includes recently signed Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones.

They, too, are expected to address wide receiver in the draft.

Learn more

— Boston Herald: Steelers match offer sheet, retain Sanders

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Deal doubles Sanders' tender offer

— Roethlisberger lobbied to retain Sanders








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