Emmanuel Sanders

Broncos’ Emmanuel Sanders Drawing Interest

Teams are calling on Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets. The Broncos would prefer to unload Demaryius Thomas‘ bloated contract, but Thomas wouldn’t net them much (or anything) in a trade that would effectively be a salary dump. 

This jibes with a previous report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who hears that the Broncos are willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders. The Broncos are understandably reluctant to part with Sanders, who is on pace for nearly 1,300 yards this season. Thomas, meanwhile, has just 372 yards through seven games, making him more than expendable.

Teams could be intrigued by the possibility of Thomas getting back to his old form, but his contract is a major barrier. The 31-year-old is signed through 2019 with cap numbers of $12MM and $17.53MM in the next two years. Even teams with ample cap room would be wary of that obligation and would be unwilling to sacrifice much in the way of draft capital for the aging receiver.

Teams are also reportedly interested in cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, but it’s unclear as to whether the Broncos are willing to part with either player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Raiders, Cooper, Cowboys, Broncos

The trade deadline is just nine days away, and earlier this morning, we learned that the Saints and Eagles could be two of the most aggressive teams as they seek to bolster their rosters for a potential championship run. Here are a few more notes from the trade market:

  • Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), many Raiders players believe that head coach Jon Gruden is simply not happy with his collection of talent, and that there will be major roster turnover within the next several years. In fact, those players feel it will take up to two years for Gruden to assemble the type of roster he wants, and while rival GMs are not sure they can swing a deal with Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie alone, they believe they can make headway with Gruden. The Raiders are clearly in a state of upheaval right now, and the sense is that everyone on the team is available for the right price.
  • Raiders receiver Amari Cooper is clearly available via trade, and Rapoport says that the team has had the most significant discussions about Cooper with NFC East clubs, including the Cowboys. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirms that Dallas is doing its due diligence on Cooper, and Albert Breer of TheMMQB thinks there would be teams willing to part with a second-round choice for him, though it does not seem likely that Oakland will get the first-rounder it is reportedly seeking. Breer reports that the team wants a third-round pick in exchange for safety Karl Joseph.
  • In addition to Cooper, the Cowboys are monitoring Dolphins WR DeVante Parker and Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Eagles have also spoken to Miami about Parker, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (via Twitter).
  • Teams are very much interested in Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Schefter writes that Denver is willing to part with Thomas, but not Sanders.
  • The Jaguars are not mulling a trade for a quarterback to challenge incumbent Blake Bortles, per Schefter. Despite another mediocre season from Bortles, the Jags “believe that the quarterback position is the least of their issues.”

Saints, Eagles Could Be Aggressive At Trade Deadline

The Saints and Eagles are expected to be among the most aggressive teams in advance of the October 30 trade deadline, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who adds that the two clubs are interested in a few of the same players.

Interestingly, La Canfora writes that Philadelphia is still monitoring the trade markets for Le’Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy, though recent reports surrounding both running backs suggest that they will be staying with their current teams. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it would not cost much to get McCoy, despite what the Bills have been saying, but it does not seem likely that the Eagles will reunite with their former star. Instead, in keeping with previous reports, it sounds as if the Eagles are content with their running back situation, and Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the team sees a defensive tackle, secondary help, and a field-stretching wide receiver as bigger priorities.

La Canfora also writes that the Eagles are seeking another receiving option and a quality corner, and he says the Saints are looking for upgrades at the same positions. The Raiders are said to be shopping Amari Cooper, who is probably the best wide receiver who could be had at the deadline, but Larry Fitzgerald and Emmanuel Sanders may also be in play. Meanwhile, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Bradley Roby are some of the corners who have been attracting the interest of rival clubs.

The Saints are currently 4-1 and are atop the NFC South, and they are clearly in win-now mode as they hope to bring home another Lombardi Trophy before Drew Brees, 39, hangs up the cleats. The defending champion Eagles are just 3-3 but are very much alive in the wide open NFC East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Broncos Rumors: Thomas, Sanders, Wolfe

Here’s a quick look at the latest out of Denver:

  • As had been previously reported, the Broncos plan to retain wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, general manager John Elway told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Specifically, Denver will exercise its $4MM option on Thomas, which will lock the 30-year-old pass-catcher into a $8.5MM base salary for the 2018 season. Sanders, meanwhile, is due an $8.15MM base salary next year. While neither receiver performed up to expectations in 2017, the Broncos likely want to keep both veterans around as they search for a new quarterback.
  • Similarly, the Broncos will bring back defensive end Derek Wolfe, who’d been mentioned as a possible cap casualty, tweets Jhabvala. Wolf, 28, signed a four-year, $36.7MM extension prior to the 2016 campaign, forgoing free agency in order to re-sign with Denver. Since that time, Wolfe has been limited by minor injuries, and played on fewer than half of the Broncos’ defensive snaps a season ago. Pro Football Focus ranked Wolfe — who managed two sacks in 2017 — as the No. 58 interior defender among 122 qualifiers. He’ll collect a base salary of $8MM and count for ~$10.769MM on Denver’s cap in 2018.
  • While Thomas, Sanders, and Wolfe appear safe, Elway refused to give the same declaration on cornerback Aqib Talib or running back C.J. Anderson, per Jhabvala (Twitter link). Denver is reportedly attempting to trade Talib (and his $11MM salary), but the club could release the veteran defensive back if no interest is found. Anderson, meanwhile, may also be cut, and the Dolphins — who signed Anderson to a restricted free agent offer sheet in 2016 — are expected to pursue him.

West Notes: Rams, 49ers, Broncos, Raiders

Two Rams defenders — linebacker Mark Barron and Kayvon Webster — recently underwent shoulder surgery, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Barron’s operation will allow him to be ready for training camp, Webster might not be available due to the torn Achilles which ended his 2017 campaign. Indeed, Webster had his shoulder procedure now so that he can rehabilitate both injuries at the same time, per Rapoport. Los Angeles will be counting on the 27-year-old Webster next season, as No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Johnson is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and won’t be franchise-tagged for a third consecutive campaign. Webster, who followed Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips from Denver last offseason, is entering his contract year.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Daniel Kilgore‘s new three-year deal with the 49ers is worth nearly $12MM and and contains $7MM in guarantees, tweets Rapoport. Kilgore, who was roughly a month away from becoming a free agent, said he accepted a team-friendly contract so San Francisco can ink quality free agents this offseason, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Kilgore was a backup or injured for much of the first five years of his career, but he’s started 29 games for the 49ers over the past two seasons. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus ranked Kilgore as just the 23rd-best center in the league in 2017, but San Francisco is clearly higher on him than that finish would indicate.
  • The Broncos and the Seahawks are two teams who could dictate the 2018 offseason, as Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com writes. While one recent report indicated Denver wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are likely to stick on the club’s 2018 roster, other general mangers believe one or both will be available on the trade market. The Broncos are also trying to land a franchise quarterback and deal cornerback Aqib Talib, meaning they’ll be heavily involved in transactional machinations over the next few weeks. Seattle, meanwhile, is facing change at multiple areas along its vaunted defense, as injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor could cloud the team’s plans.
  • Free agent linebacker Michael Scherer recently worked out for the Raiders, reports veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Scherer, a Missouri product, appeared in 26 games for the Tigers from 2014-15 before a knee injury ended his senior season after seven contests in 2016. He’s yet to land an NFL contract, but he did audition for the Bears and Giants last year.

Broncos Unlikely To Cut Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders

Although Broncos wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have both been mentioned as potential cap casualties, the “belief” is that both are safe bets to stick on Denver’s roster given that the club is searching for a top-end quarterback this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders (Vertical)

General manager John Elway is reportedly considering any and all options to improve the Broncos’ quarterback situation over the coming months. As PFR’s Sam Robinson detailed in an extensive look at Denver’s offseason priorities, the Broncos could theoretically target a free agent solution such as Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, or Tyrod Taylor, or perhaps look to draft a collegiate signal-caller like Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or Josh Allen. Either way, Denver’s ability to retain its top two pass-catchers should help the club’s next quarterback.

Additionally, salary cap space shouldn’t be a problem for the Broncos in 2018, so saving money by cutting Thomas or Sanders isn’t an absolute necessity. Although Denver currently boasts only $27MM in cap room (16th in the NFL), it can easily create more space through personnel moves that don’t involve Thomas or Sanders. The Broncos could release cornerback Aqib Talib, running back C.J. Anderson, and offensive tackle Menelik Watson — each of which is a rumored transaction — and catapult their available cap space to more than $40MM.

Thomas, 30, has two years left on his current contract, and is scheduled to count for roughly $12MM in 2018. Denver could release him and save nearly $5MM, but the team would also take on $7.06MM in dead money. A post-June 1 designation would create $8.5MM in savings, but having extra room in June wouldn’t help the Broncos sign a quarterback in April. Thomas managed only 949 receiving yards last season, his lowest total since 2011, but the lack of effective quarterback play in Denver played a large part in that lack of production.

Sanders was also affected by the Broncos’ dismal efforts under center, as he posted just 555 receiving yards while appearing in 12 games. Prior to 2017, the 30-year-old Sanders had produced three straight campaigns with at least 1,000 yards through the air. If they were to release Sanders, the Broncos would pick up ~$5.563MM in cap space but incur $5.375MM in dead money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Seahawks, 49ers

The Broncos have fallen quite a ways from their Super Bowl 50 win about two years ago. The team’s biggest question mark is obviously at quarterback, but there are a number of questions that John Elway and company will have to answer over the course of the offseason, explains Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Jhabvala mentions that the Broncos wide receiver position could really change over the next few months depending on how the front office approaches some of the playmakers that could enter free agency. The big name she mentions is Demaryius Thomas who could test the open market should Denver decline his $4MM option. He’s controllable for non-guaranteed salaries for the next two seasons, but the team could save some money or re-negotiate a new contract before a decision has to be made about that option. In addition to Thomas, Cody Latimer is an unrestricted free agent, Bennie Fowler is a restricted free agent and Emmanuel Sanders is a controllable veteran that could hit the trade block if the team rather invest in Thomas long-term.

Jhabvala also focuses on veteran cornerback Aqib Talib. She notes how he’ll turn 32 in February and is set to make $11MM in 2018. Although, the Broncos would only be responsible for $1MM if he were to be released. With Chris Harris and Bradley Roby under contract as well, it’s unlikely the team would hold onto all three for next season.

The article finally keys in on Denver’s starting running back, C.J. Anderson. Anderson is paid well for his position as he’ll make $4.4MM next season. However, his last two years of his original four-year deal that he signed in 2016 are non-guaranteed, so there is definitely significant money to be saved should the team move onto the likes of Devontae Booker, De’Angelo Henderson or potentially a another running back that they draft in April.

Here’s more from the NFL’s West divisions:

  • Denver has to deal with an off-the-field problem at receiver as well. Their 2017 third-round draft pick, Carlos Henderson, was arrested this afternoon for possession of marijuana, per Brad Cesak of NBC6News (Twitter link). The 23-year-old was placed on the injured reserve with a thumb injury in the preseason, but could face league discipline for his most recent incident. This would be his first offense, but it’s not encouraging for a Broncos team potentially looking for steady contributors on that side of the ball.
  • The news that Pete Carroll would be replacing Darrell Bevell with Brian Schottenheimer as Seattle’s next offensive coordinator was met with some skepticism across the football world. However, Seahawks backup quarterback Austin Davis thinks that the change will bring some positivity to the team’s offense in 2018, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Schottenheimer coached Davis for three seasons while the two were in St. Louis. “We were very creative in St. Louis,” Davis told 710 ESPN Seattle. “We threw a lot of things at the defense, whether it was drop-back, whether it was play-action, whether it was quarterback movement, we had it all. And we were a really good screen team. If there was one thing I could pick out from last year, we couldn’t run screens.” The Seahawks offense was carried by Russell Wilson last season and is in need of a new identity as the team looks to get back into the postseason.
  • 49ers promising rookie linebacker Reuben Foster recently got in trouble with the law for having possession of marijuana, which is likely to effect his paycheck in the years to come. The 2017 first-round pick had about $2.5MM in guaranteed money from 2018-2020, but that will probably be voided because of specific wording in his contract, according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Corry explained that Foster had a clause in his contract that if he were to be fined for a violation of the NFL’s drug policy, that money would lose its guaranteed status. The former Alabama defender fell down the draft board a bit last year because of some personality issues, and his immaturity has now clearly cost him in terms of his wallet.
  • Current 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo made some extra cash after the Patriots beat the Titans to advance to the AFC Championship, according to Corry in another tweet. Corry reports that Garoppolo received an extra $51k in playoff money for the victory because he was with New England for at least eight games this past regular season.

AFC Notes: Browns, Jackson, Broncos WR’s

The Browns are in serious danger of joining the 2008 Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a single season. Cleveland will take on the Bears and Steelers before the dust is settled, but will be moving forward with a new head football man in John Dorsey.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com answers a variety of questions in a video addressing many different questions swirling around the franchise. One question she touches on is how quickly of an impact Dorsey will have on the field? While Cabot did say that it will take some time to turn around the franchise, one thing Dorsey will emphasize is finding that franchise quarterback that the team has been craving for a long time. Cabot states that just like with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo, if the Browns can find their guy this offseason, there could be a dramatic shift in the long-term outlook of the organization.

The Browns will likely hold the first overall pick so they could be faced with a choice regarding Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen should both draft eligible QB’s turn pro this offseason.

Here are more stories coming from the AFC:

  • While the Browns do have a new decision maker in Dorsey, head coach Hue Jackson remains a bit in-flux. While the team’s owner has expressed his desire to keep the veteran coach, there could be an added twist in this story because of the division rival Bengals, states Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Pluto opines that should Jackson replace the embattled Marvin Lewis, that would allow Dorsey to put his own coach in place, leaving his relationship with owner Jimmy Haslam in-tact. Bengals owner Mike Brown seems to like guys he’s worked with in the past, so Jackson seems like a reasonable possibility, even given his 1-29 record in Cleveland.
  • The Broncos are very much playing out the string of this season with a number of different QB’s given injuries and poor play. However, the wide receiver position has taken a hit over the past week, according to Mike Klis of 9news.com. Klis notes that Denver could only have four wideouts active against the Redskins in Week 16. Demaryius Thomas, Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor and Isaiah McKenzie are the only healthy receivers available and could lead the team to serious depth problems should one of them go down this weekend. Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer are both listed as questionable and really have no reason to be pushed given that the Broncos are not in the playoff race. Expect the team to rely on the running game in order to keep their receiving corps healthy on Sunday.
  • Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper has not been 100% since he suffered a concussion and an ankle injury vs. the Broncos a few weeks ago. The third-year wideout has been inconsistent while on the field this season, but said after practice on Friday that he “felt all right” and is “still working through” the injuries, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (Twitter link). He remains questionable to play for Monday night’s game against the Eagles. Gehlken also passed along that four Raiders missed practice today, including: CB David Amerson (foot), C Rodney Hudson (ankle/illness), DL Treyvon Hester (ankle) and TE Clive Walford (concussion/neck) (Twitter link).

Injury Notes: Tate, Jameis, Sanders, Texans

After suffering an AC joint sprain on Sunday, Lions wide receiver Golden Tate is expected to miss a few weeks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). Luckily for Detroit, the club is heading into a bye week before taking on the Steelers in Week 8, so Tate will get a bit of extra time to recover. If he is forced to miss time, Tate will be a large absence for the Lions’ 21st-ranked DVOA offense, as he’s posted 36 receptions for 363 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Detroit would turn to T.J. Jones, Jared Abbrederis, and — if he’s healthy following a hamstring injury — Kenny Golladay to play more snaps alongside Marvin Jones.

Here’s more from the injury front:

  • Like Tate, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is also dealing with an AC joint sprain, and his is all the more serious given that it’s in his throwing shoulder, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Winston attempted only 10 passes before going down with injury in a game Tampa Bay ultimately lost to Arizona. The Buccaneers are set to face the Bills in Week 7, and though Winston has vowed to play through the sprain, it’s not certain that he’ll be available on Sunday. If Winston can’t go, backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start after throwing for 290 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions yesterday.
  • Broncos wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie will each miss at least Week 7 with sprained ankles, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). While McKenzie, a fifth-round rookie, has barely contributed on offense, the loss of Sanders will undoubtedly hurt the Broncos, as the club has little depth behind its starting wide receivers. Bennie Fowler and Jordan Taylor are candidates to see increased usage alongside Demaryius Thomas, as is Cody Latimer if he can return from a knee injury. Denver is also discussing whether to add more bodies at the wideout position, tweets Troy Renck of Denver7.
  • Cornerback Kevin Johnson is expected to return to action following the Texans‘ Week 7 bye, head coach Bill O’Brien told reporters, including Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Johnson went down with a sprained MCL in mid-September, but Houston’s depth in the secondary has managed to keep its defense afloat, and the team currently ranks 11th in pass defense DVOA. Injuries have ruined each of Johnson’s past two seasons (he managed only six games in 2016), but the former first-round pick has been extremely effective when on the field.