Sources: Big Ben lobbies for Sanders

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been lobbying coach Mike Tomlin to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet the New England Patriots gave wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, according to sources.

The Steelers have until 11:59 p.m. Sunday night to match the offer sheet Sanders signed with the Patriots. If the Steelers don't match, Sanders will join the Patriots and Pittsburgh will receive a third-round draft choice.

The Steelers are not expected to make a decision until Sunday.

The money in Sanders' offer sheet won't scare Pittsburgh, sources said. But Sanders can leave in a year as an unrestricted free agent. Instead of risking losing him with no compensation after the 2012 season, the Steelers could opt to take New England's third-round pick now.

Sanders, 26, is a quick, athletic receiver who caught a career-high 44 passes in 2012, doubling his production from the previous season.

He received an original-round tender from the Steelers only because of the team's salary-cap restraints this offseason.

Sanders was expected to replace Mike Wallace, who signed with the Miami Dolphins this offseason, in the starting lineup opposite Antonio Brown.

The only Steelers wide receivers with any experience right now are Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Plaxico Burress and David Gilreath.