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Emmanuel Sanders is sticking with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The team announced Sunday it matched the $2.5 million offer the New England Patriots made to the restricted free agent wide receiver last week. Pittsburgh would have received a third-round pick from the Patriots if it let Sanders go to New England.
Instead Sanders will likely be second on the depth chart behind Antonio Brown when training camp opens in July. The 26-year-old Sanders caught 44 passes for 626 yards and a touchdown in 2012, and was the only wide receiver to appear in all 16 games for Pittsburgh in 2012.
"Glad the business side is out of the way," Sanders posted on his Twitter account Sunday evening.
The Steelers will have to give Sanders a $1 million raise, bringing them within about $1 million of the salary cap. They would have received some cap relief if they let Sanders leave, but would also have been woefully thin at wide receiver heading into the draft.
Mike Wallace signed as a free agent with Miami last month, and tight end Heath Miller is recovering from a severe knee injury.
If Sanders departed the leading candidates to replace him would have been Jerricho Cotchery, Plaxico Burress or unproven David Gilreath.
- Associated Press