Emmanuel Sanders was released on Wednesday by the New Orleans Saints. The former Denver Broncos wide receiver played 14 games for the Saints in 2020, notching 61 catches for 726 yards. Considering the K.C. Chiefs seem likely to move on from Demarcus Robinson, and with Sammy Watkins’ future up in the air, the Chiefs WR group will probably see some reshuffling this offseason.
Sanders would be a strong addition for a few reasons. The first reason is that he’s still a productive contributor, even though he’s north of 30. The 33 year old has churned out a steady line of production in the last few years: 61 catches for 726 last year, 66 catches for 869 in 2019, and 71 catches for 868 in 2018. These are solid numbers, especially when you consider the role he’d be stepping into.
The Chiefs have their top two pass-catchers set in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. But if Robinson and Watkins are gone, the Chiefs will need someone to step in the WR3 role. It makes sense that Sanders, who would likely come cheap, would fill that role.
Next, we can get a rough sense of Sanders’ potential contract by looking at some other wide receivers who signed new contracts at a similar age.
- Antonio Brown: 1 year / $1.67M
- Mohamed Sanu: 1 year / $1.05M
- Dez Bryant: 1 year / $1.05M
- Travis Benjamin: 1 year / $1.05M
Long story short, Sanders probably wouldn’t command a very big contract.
Sanders also fits in the general philosophy I think the Chiefs will have going forward: grow organically through draft and development, while signing a few veterans to short-term deals. Sanders fits this method perfectly, as he would offer a nice combination of minimal financial risk and serious production. He’s a nice stop-gap. The team will be able to evaluate young players without being hamstrung by some massive contract. Plus, the opportunity to add another veteran to help mentor some of the younger receivers is a strong plus.
This season will be unique, mainly because the Chiefs are both in a kind of growth mode, yet remain Super Bowl contenders. With an eye on getting younger and replenishing a few positional units, signing Emmanuel Sanders is a sensible way to bolster the wide receiving room, without restricting the team’s long term goals.