Steelers match Patriots’ offer on wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30: Emmanuel Sanders #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs after making a catch in the second half against the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 30, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Browns 24-10. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Emmanuel Sanders (above left) was offered a one-year deal by the Patriots. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

Jordan Woy, the agent for restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, tweeted Sunday that the Steelers matched the offer sheet the Patriots signed the wide receiver to last week.

Pittsburgh had until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to match the one-year, $2.5 million contract the Patriots offered. If the Steelers had not matched, they would have received New England’s third-round draft pick this year, 91st overall.

There was some question as to whether Pittsburgh would elect to keep Sanders given its salary cap problems, but when the Patriots’ offer came at a reasonable figure, it seemed more likely that they would.

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There were multiple reports in recent days that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had been campaigning for the Steelers to keep Sanders.

Sanders’s restricted free agent tender was $1.3 million, so the Steelers effectively doubled his salary for the coming season.

If the Steelers and Sanders do not sign a long-term contract before free agency begins in 2014, Sanders would hit the open market.