sanders-ball2

When it was first reported that the Patriots signed Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet earlier this morning, the assumption was that while money — and a lack of it — will be a hurdle for Pittsburgh if they want to retain him, philosophy may ultimately carry the most weight in the Steelers’ decision. Why go through the process of shuffling and shifting when Sanders would fetch a third-round pick, and he can be replaced in a wide receiver-rich draft?

Now we know the contract offered by the Patriots, and that logic may still win.

The Pats have offered Sanders a one-year deal valued at $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer. That’s a problem, because the Steelers currently have about $2 million in cap space. However, creative cap dancing can easily be done to make room, which in effect jams a wad of Juicyfruit up a gushing hole, merely postponing the pain of a cap crunch.

The most obvious candidate for a restructured contract is Troy Polamalu, the aging safety who’s set to earn $7.5 million next year. It wouldn’t take much, but the question still remains: is Sanders worth it? No, probably not, but for a team which faces a gutting at the position and little support for Ben Roethlisberger in the backfield now, he might be.

We’ll have our answer in five days.