Extra Points: Sanders, Eagles, Lions

Emmanuel Sanders became one of the NFL’s upper-echelon wide receivers since signing with the Broncos, stringing together three straight 1,000-yard seasons and being Peyton Manning‘s top postseason target en route to Denver’s Super Bowl 50 title. But the 31-year-old pass-catcher saw the Broncos change the equation this offseason. After three seasons featuring scant production behind Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, Denver drafted two wideouts — second-rounder Courtland Sutton and fourth-rounder DaeSean Hamilton — to try and build depth behind its experienced duo. Considering Sanders has a $12.94MM cap number in 2019, one that would cost the Broncos barely $2MM to shed, he may see the writing on the wall heading into his fifth year with the team.

Even prior to them signing those young guys, even when I signed the contract … only two years are guaranteed and after that it’s year-to-year,” Sanders said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (subscription required) of his September 2016 extension. “You play long enough and you start understanding these contracts are not guaranteed. And, truthfully, for everybody, including Von Miller, it’s year-to-year, because who knows what might happen? Who knows what situation might play out?

I always play like that, like it’s always year-to-year. I got something to prove this year and if I don’t prove it to the Broncos, then I’ll be proving it to some other team.”

Denver has both Thomas and Sanders signed through 2019, the former with a cap number slated to climb to $17.53MM next year. So, the team will have some big decisions to make a year from now regarding one of the top receiving duos in franchise history.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • After receiving his initial OTA reps at left guard, Lions first-rounder Frank Ragnow is expected to start his career there, per Nate Atkins of MLive.com. This would likely mean using improving talent Graham Glasgow at center. Glasgow lined up at center at times during both of his first two seasons but spent more time at guard in a breakout 2017. The Lions were planning to try Glasgow at center at the offseason’s outset, and that experiment may continue into training camp. Ragnow was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated center in each of the past two years while at Arkansas. Newly acquired Wesley Johnson, the Jets’ starting center for the past 1 1/2 years, would then represent a depth piece.
  • Sixth-year defensive lineman Cornelius Washington resides on the Lions’ roster bubble, Atkins notes. The former Bears defender is entering the second season of a two-year, $6MM deal. Washington played 488 snaps last season at defensive end with Detroit, registering 2.5 sacks. The Lions, though, drafted Da’Shawn Hand in the fourth round this year, and Atkins envisions Washington being close to the chopping block as a result.
  • The Eagles are planning to use Jay Ajayi as their unquestioned starter, and Darren Sproles will join emerging second-year back Corey Clement after missing most of last season. The defending Super Bowl champions are likely to keep a No. 4 back on the active roster, per Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia, who doesn’t expect that to be 2017 draftee Donnel Pumphrey. Despite Pumphrey being yet to show what he can do after an injury wiped out his entire rookie season, the former fourth-round pick is battling one-time Redskins starter-turned-castoff Matt Jones. Zangaro expects Jones to win that battle. The Eagles also have Wendell Smallwood and paid a premium to add UDFA Josh Adams this year, creating an intriguing competition for this back-end roster spot.
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