Jordan Woy, the agent for restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders has tweeted that the Steelers have matched the offer sheet the Patriots signed the wide receiver to earlier this week.
That means Sanders will not be coming to New England.
Pittsburgh had until 11:59 p.m. Sunday night to match the one-year, $2.5 million contract the Patriots had offered. If the Steelers had not matched, they would have received New England’s third-round draft pick this year, which is 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 it at a reasonable figure, it seemed more likely that they would.
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.