The Pittsburgh Steelers have retained wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders after agreeing to match the offer he obtained from the New England Patriots as a restricted free agent.
Sanders had signed a one-year contract, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported to be worth $2.5 million, with the AFC East champion Patriots on Wednesday. The Steelers had until Sunday to decide whether or not to equal the offer, and would have received New England's third-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft had they declined.
The 26-year-old Sanders is coming off the most productive of his three seasons in Pittsburgh, recording 44 catches totaling 626 yards and one touchdown as the team's primary slot receiver, and may be in line for a greater role in 2013 with speedster Mike Wallace signing with Miami as a free agent last month.
Pittsburgh originally had offered Sanders, who has compiled 94 catches for 1,290 yards and five touchdowns during his three-year tenure with the club, a $1.323 restricted-free agent tenure.