Pittsburgh Steelers Reportedly Match Patriots' Offer Sheet on Emmanuel Sanders

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IApril 14, 2013

Ben Roethlisberger got his wish, as the Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly matched the New England Patriots' offer sheet for Emmanuel Sanders.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news Sunday:

Roethlisberger had already lost one of his top receivers earlier this offseason when the Miami Dolphins signed Mike Wallace and obviously didn't want to lose another, lobbying the team to keep Sanders.

Sanders signed the Patriots' one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet on April 10. Though the amount isn't exorbitant by any means, Pittsburgh is up against the cap this year.   

Sanders caught 44 passes for 626 yards and one touchdown for the Steelers last year as the team's No. 3 receiver. 

Like Wallace, he is an undersized wideout (5'11", 186 pounds) who can beat defenses over the top with his excellent speed (4.41-second 40 at the 2010 combine). He will likely now step in as the team's No. 2 receiver opposite Antonio Brown. 

The former SMU standout improved dramatically in his third year with Pittsburgh, nearly doubling his yearly totals from his first two seasons with the club. 

If his current trend holds steady, Sanders is due for a breakout season. If he gives the team production akin to what it lost when Wallace left town, he'll be well worth the $2.5 million contract. 

Given this recent development, it seems highly unlikely that come April, Pittsburgh will target a wide receiver in Round 1. Instead, look for Pittsburgh to target a defender with its first-round pick and rely on Sanders and Brown to carry the bulk of its passing attack in 2013. 

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