The offer sheet that Steelers restricted free agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Patriots is for one year and worth $2.5 million, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.
As Schefter noted earlier on Wednesday, the terms of the offer sheet aren't such that the Steelers would be "scared" to match. The Steelers, even though they are tight to the salary cap, could absorb that salary.
But the question is whether they value Sanders enough to do so.
After all, they could have tendered Sanders at the second-round level, which would have been worth $2 million, and likely kept any suitors away because of the second-round compensation. Instead, they tendered him at $1.3 million (and would receive a third-round draft choice in return if they don't match an offer).
So this is a conservative yet strategic play by the Patriots, who obviously like Sanders but not to the point of drawing up a multi-year, big-money contract.
If the salary cap-strapped Steelers didn't think Sanders was worth the second-round tender ($2 million), or the first-round tender ($2.88 million), maybe that means they won't match an offer sheet that falls between those two figures.
We'll find out the answer within five days.