Steelers restricted free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed a one-year offer sheet from the Patriots on Wednesday, league sources confirmed. Pittsburgh has five days to match the offer.
If the Steelers decide not to match the offer, they will receive the Patriots’ third-round pick in this year’s draft.
It’s unknown how much the offer is for. The Patriots have about $8.2 million in cap space. The Steelers have about $2 million, but that includes Sanders’ $1.3 million tender. The Patriots offer was likely in the $4-5 million range to make the Steelers have to contemplate other roster moves to match the offer.
Sanders, 26, has been a bit of a disappointment to the Steelers since he was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft. He set a career high with 44 catches for 626 yards and added one touchdown last season. Sanders has lagged behind the other young receivers -- Mike Wallace (now with the Dolphins) and Antonio Brown.
Unlike the Patriots, the Steelers have a good track record for drafting receivers so they may take the $1.3 million in cap space and the third-round pick and reinvest in the team.
If the Steelers don’t match, the Patriots would be left with four picks in the draft: first, second and two seventh rounders.