One last thought on Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who is visiting the New England Patriots today. I forgot to talk about Sanders\’ own displacement cost of $1.323 million, which is the original round tender that he is currently wearing.
That $1.323 million essentially becomes free money should Sanders sign an offer sheet with the Patriots. In other words, it clears that much cap room, minus displacement of course, or can be accounted for in the amount of cap room that the Steelers need to match the offer sheet.
This is a big part of a tight cap puzzle that relates Sanders and the Steelers. Assuming the Steelers are currently around $3 million under the cap right now, it would essentially be a little less than $4 million after displacement. That extra million is not a lot, but the Patriots would have to take this into account in their offer sheet.
With all of that being said, a 2013 cap hit for Sanders in an offer sheet of around $3.5 million or more, still would likely be enough to scare away the Steelers from matching the offer. This also assumes the total value of the contract offered to Sanders is fair in the eyes of the Steelers.
Right now, in my opinion, it boils down to whether or not the Patriots really want Sanders. If they do, they will give up their third round draft pick and the Steelers will gain a little less than a million in salary cap space to use elsewhere. If they don\’t want Sanders, he will remain a restricted free agent until he signs his tender. I cant see the Patriots wasting time with an offer sheet if they think there is even a remote chance that the Steelers would match it.