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There is no rule in the collective bargaining agreement against extending a restricted free agent in this situation.
The only rule in Article 9, Section 3 that applies to this situation is a set of language that prevents the "New Club" (New England, in this scenario) from reducing the player's salary in the first year.
"Neither the player nor the New Club may exercise an option in such Player Contract that reduces Salary in the first League Year of such contract until after the end of the first regular season covered by the Contract," the CBA reads.
Thus, the Patriots are free to sign Sanders to a long-term deal if the Steelers fail to match the one-year offer.