You are 100% right...It is about if the Steelers plans are long term with Sanders. They need to ask themsleves, if Sanders has a70/1,100 6TDs year, Will they try and retain him? If the answer is yes..You consider matching. But here is my twist to the whole situation. Year 1 has to match the offer sheet. If they want him in the long term plans...You bring him in NOW and set him & his agent down. Before you match you talk about an extension this year. You know the Pats have done this based upon the 1 year offer sheet. You see where they are right now before the 2013 season for a long term extension. See where they draw the line now and you will have a better idea of the "If we can afford him" part. Maybe the Pats devalued him and if the staff has great confidence in him...The Steelers can do the long term and get him at a bargain. Might be worth the risk. The other side of the process would be you can see if the Pats inflated his value even before his 2013 season. In this case, even though you want Sanders long term...You may now know you won't be able to come to terms & you don't match. Take the pick.
Problem is that if Sanders has a great year, the Steelers won't be able to afford him.
Even if Bill Belichick was getting an atomic wedgie, his face would look exactly the same.