Following in the footsteps of Plaxico Burress, Emmanuel Sanders has thrived after leaving the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s permitted many of its wideout finds to depart over the years, prioritizing only long-term partnerships with Hines Ward and Antonio Brown this century. In advance of the latest Broncos-Steelers game, Sanders said (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski) Mike Tomlin told him prior to 2014 free agency the Steelers “didn’t have the money to pay me.” Denver added Sanders to a $5MM-per-year accord then extended him two years later.
The Steelers have let Sanders, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes, Martavis Bryant and Antwaan Randle-El go either after the wideouts’ rookie deals expired or, in Bryant’s case, trading him away. But Pittsburgh continues to find wideout talent, with JuJu Smith-Schuster being the latest such discovery. After an injury-plagued 2017, Sanders (763 receiving yards) is on pace for his fourth 1,000-yard season in five years with the Broncos. He’s signed through 2019. Despite a $10.15MM base salary next year, the 31-year-old pass-catcher may be in line to play out his contract. The Broncos traded Demaryius Thomas, with Courtland Sutton waiting in the wings, but don’t have an obvious Sanders replacement lined up just yet.
Here’s the latest from the AFC on this NFC-only Thanksgiving:
- It doesn’t sound like Matt Slauson has immediate retirement plans, despite suffering a scary back injury, Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star notes. The first-year Colts lineman has contributed plenty to the cause despite being sidelined for much of this year, with Keefer noting he’s helped Indianapolis’ younger linemen. The Colts haven’t allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked in 214 straight pass attempts; that’s the longest since the Redskins kept Mark Rypien upright for 252 straight pass plays during the franchise’s 1991 Super Bowl season. Slauson continues to work out with teammates but is 32 and only signed through 2018.
- Both Joe Flacco and Alex Collins missed the Ravens‘ Thanksgiving practice, per Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun. Flacco has not practiced since suffering the hip injury that has him sidelined. He’s expected to miss at least one more week, giving Lamar Jackson another audition opportunity. Collins played last week but has dealt with a foot injury throughout the season, per Shaffer.
- Signs continue to point to Josh McCown receiving another Jets start. Sam Darnold did not participate in team drills Thursday, missing a second straight day of such work, according to the Associated Press. The rookie starter suited up Wednesday for the first time since straining his right foot but did not throw a pass in individual drills. McCown appears to be in line to face the Patriots, with Todd Bowles indicating (via the New York Post’s George Willis) the team will err on the side of caution. So, unless Darnold makes some significant strides by Friday, he’ll likely rest for at least one more week.