The Pittsburgh Steelers likely cost themselves $500,000 when they placed a third-round, $1.3 million tender on Emmanuel Sanders, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The New England Patriots picked up the tab, forcing the Steelers to match a one-year, $2.5 million offer in order to retain the wideout. If the Steelers had originally placed a second round, $2 million tender on Sanders, the Patriots likely would not have made an offer, and Pittsburgh would have had more cash in their coffers.
The Steelers took a gamble by offering Wallace the lowest possible tender for a restricted free agent. If the former third-rounder had not been able to find a suitor, the Steelers would have saved $700,000 from a second-round tender offer, and almost $1.9 million from a first-round tender offer. A wideout-starved Patriots squad ruined the gamble, however, making Sanders a big winner. He made $490,000 in base salary during the third year of his rookie contract last season.
Sanders should play a big role within the Steelers' offense next season now that Mike Wallace is in Miami. He was very productive as a No. 3 receiver last season, more than doubling his 2011 totals with 44 receptions for 626 yards. Sanders has the top-end speed to be a deep threat in place of Wallace, while Antonio Brown remains a sturdy possession option for Ben Roethlisberger.