Mohamed Sanu

AFC East Notes: Bills, Epenesa, Patriots, Jets

In January, defensive end A.J. Epenesa looked the part of a top-15 pick. But, after a shaky combine performance, his draft stock crashed. That worked out just fine for the Bills, who managed to land the Iowa standout in the second round.

It was a mistake,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said (via Marcel Louis-Jacques of “This guy is a better player than the 54th pick in the draft, but time will tell. I think the Bills did a hell of a job and I’m happy he’s there.”

For now, Epenesa will play behind bookends Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison (he may also see some extra snaps on the defensive line if Ed Oliver‘s Saturday arrest keeps him off the field in the fall). In the not-too-distant-future, the Bills see Epenesa as a starter who can make a difference on the edge and even feature as a 3-technique tackle in certain packages. Epenesa is disappointed about being left hanging on the phone last month, but he says he’ll use that as extra motivation on his NFL journey.

I feel like I always try to play with a chip on my shoulder and give myself a little extra motivation. I was number 54; there were 53 people picked in front of me,” Epenesa said. “Yeah, it gets me fired up and I want to be able to go out there and prove to people that they shouldn’t have doubted [me].

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is out of his walking boot, according to’s Mike Giardi (on Twitter). Sanu joined the Patriots via midseason trade with the Falcons last year, but an ankle injury in his third game with New England hampered him throughout the year. The veteran went under the knife earlier this year and now appears to be on track for a healthy return. Sanu is under contract for one more season at $6.5MM, a reasonable sum considering his ability. In theory, they could cut him, but it would be a surprise since they gave up a second-round pick for him less than a year ago.
  • The Jets have serious interest in free agent cornerback Logan Ryan, but as of late last week, they have not put a formal offer on the table for him, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY hears. Meanwhile, the rival Dolphins may be a surprise suitor for his services. For his part, Ryan says he’d be down to join Gang Green…or any NFL team besides the Titans.

Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu To Undergo Surgery

The Patriots traded a second-rounder pick to Atlanta for receiver Mohamed Sanu in advance of last year’s deadline in the hopes that he could spark the club’s sagging vertical game. That did not happen, as Sanu suffered a high ankle sprain during a punt return in his third game with New England, and he was not the same after that (just one game prior, he tallied 10 catches for 81 yards and a TD in a loss to Baltimore).

Unfortunately, Sanu will require surgery on his ankle, as Adam Schefter of reports (Twitter link). The hope was that the injury would heal on its own, but instead Sanu will have to go under the knife. There is not yet a timetable for his recovery, though it seems fair to expect that he will be at full strength in time for training camp.

Regardless of who plays quarterback for the Pats next year, they are widely expected to add a couple of pass catchers in free agency and/or the draft. But a healthy Sanu, along with a year of growth from 2019 first-rounder N’Keal Harry, would go a long way towards improving the club’s overall offensive output.

Sanu is under contract through 2020 and is due a $6.5MM salary this season, though the Pats could clear that entire figure off its books by cutting him. However, $6.5MM seems like a reasonable figure given Sanu’s potential production, and the team would hate to have given up a second-rounder without much of a return on its investment.

In 2018, Sanu turned in perhaps the best performance of his career, catching 66 passes for 838 yards and four TDs with the Falcons. So if he’s healthy, he’s still capable of being a key contributor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Sanu, Brown, Bears, Lock

The Patriots‘ revolving receiver cast may be set for more adjustments. Mohamed Sanu may well be battling a high ankle sprain, according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. While that is not confirmed, the recent trade acquisition did not practice Wednesday and is listed on New England’s injury report. A high ankle sprain would stand to sideline Sanu for multiple games. The Pats have cycled through numerous receiver combinations this season, with Julian Edelman being the only constant. Phillip Dorsett is in the Pats’ concussion protocol, meaning Edelman’s supporting cast against the Cowboys may be fronted by rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.

Here is the latest from around the NFL, moving first to a player not currently in the league.

  • Antonio Brown launched a countersuit against Britney Taylor, the first of two women to make sexual misconduct claims against the free agent wide receiver. Taylor filed a civil suit against Brown earlier this year, alleging sexual assault, and Jeremy Fowler of reports Brown’s case will center around defamation and interference with NFL contract and endorsement opportunities. Brown remains hopeful the NFL will clear him soon; he met with the league last week. But a recent report gave Brown a long-odds chance of playing again this season.
  • Mitchell Trubisky was a full participant at Bears practice Wednesday, despite being removed from Sunday night’s game with a hip injury. Matt Nagy said he does not intend to bench his starter and plans to play him this week against the Giants. “We want him to be out there this week as the starter,” Nagy said, via J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. “I’m hoping that’s the case. … These types of injuries, you get to a point where they are literally day to day and it becomes about where you’re at with the pain and how we manage that.”
  • Brandon Allen has helped spark the Broncos‘ offense, but the team would stand to benefit from Drew Lock debuting soon. Vic Fangio added an interesting stance Wednesday, indicating he does not think it’s “vitally important” the rookie passer plays this season, via Mike Klis of 9News. However, the Broncos do plan to activate Lock from IR either next week or in Week 14, per Klis. Denver selected Lock in Round 2 but saw its Joe Flacco investment fail, leading to more uncertainty at a long-troublesome position for the franchise. The Broncos could again be linked to top quarterbacks in the 2020 draft, just as they were in 2018 and ’19.
  • One of the Falcons‘ IR-return slots will go toward a punter. Longtime punter Matt Bosher returned to practice, Vaughn McClure of notes (on Twitter). Atlanta’s ninth-year punter cannot return to action until Week 13.
  • After placing fullback Nick Bawden on IR, the Lions worked out several fullbacks. Tommy Bohanon, Derrick Coleman, Tre Madden, Aaron Ripkowski auditioned for the Lions, per Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter).

AFC East Notes: Pats, Gostkowski, Jets, Bell

Mohamed Sanu joined the Patriots in late October, but the veteran receiver believed he was going to land with the organization much earlier. As Jeff Howe of The Athletic writes, the Rutgers product expected to be drafted by New England during the 2012 draft, and he later opted for a lucrative payday from the Falcons when he hit free agency in 2016. Now, during his ninth year in the NFL, he’s finally on the Patriots.

“The draft, free agency, and now it happened – it’s kind of been like a long time coming, like it was almost meant to happen,” Sanu told Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

The 30-year-old also discussed his chances of sticking with New England for his entire career.

“That’d be cool,” Sanu said. “You never know. I just go where everything falls, take it day by day. Whatever happens, happens. I do my part, do my best, be a great teammate and do my part, whenever I can to help this team win…Now that I’m here, it’s time to go to work. I’m very excited.”

Sanu had a standout game for the Patriots during last night’s loss, hauling in 10 receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown.

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski underwent successful hip surgery and was back at the team’s facilities last week. Meanwhile, it was revealed that third-round offensive lineman Yodny Cajuste will likely miss the entire season as he recovers from quadriceps surgery. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Reiss) that the rookie would likely have a redshirt season: “That’s probably a pretty good way of approaching or saying it. He’s probably not ready to do anything and probably won’t be until next year. That’s the way I see it.”
  • Elandon Roberts has had to fill in at fullback for the Patriots following injuries to James Develin and Jakob Johnson. However, the linebacker isn’t planning on making a permanent position change; Reiss writes that Roberts is still a “full-time participant in defensive and linebacker meetings.” While the 25-year-old indicated that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, he views the fullback position as an “extra” priority.
  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell is set to undergo an MRI on his injured knee, coach Adam Gase told reporters (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter). The coach also acknowledged that he’s uncertain when the veteran suffered the injury, as Bell only reveled the ailment this morning.
  • While Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts has love for “the loyal fans,” he wasn’t too happy with those who criticized the team following their loss to the Dolphins yesterday. You can check out the Instagram rant for yourself thanks to Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post.

49ers Also Pursued Mohamed Sanu

Some key wide receiver dominoes fell Tuesday, and the 49ers were involved in both. Prior to acquiring Emmanuel Sanders from the Broncos, the 49ers were “heavily” in on Mohamed Sanu, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required).

The Patriots ended up outbidding the 49ers for the Falcon wideout, sending a second-round pick to Atlanta. San Francisco already unloaded its 2020 second-rounder, sending it to Kansas City for Dee Ford in March. Sanu is 30 and signed through 2020; Sanders is 32 and in a contract year.

While Sanders has accomplished more than Sanu, it’s understandable why the 49ers pursued the latter. Sanu’s first Atlanta season came when Kyle Shanahan was running a historically great Falcons offense, which led the team to Super Bowl LI. The third-year 49ers HC was seeking a “big-bodied” wideout in the offseason, per Barrows. Sanu would have filled that role better than Sanders, who ended up costing the 49ers 2020 third- and fourth-round picks.

San Francisco is now without second-, third- and fourth-round picks in next year’s draft. But the 49ers exited Week 7 with their leading wide receiver (Marquise Goodwin) having totaled 181 receiving yards. Sanders, who has 367, should be able to assimilate quickly after playing in ex-49er OC Rich Scangarello‘s offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Trade Mohamed Sanu To Patriots

The Falcons have traded Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots in exchange for a second-round pick, as Ian Rapoport of tweets. The deal gives the 7-0 Patriots even more offensive firepower and brings them a wide receiver that they’ve long coveted.

The Patriots were one of several teams looking to trade for Sanu during the draft. The Falcons brushed those clubs off, but things changed after their 37-10 loss to the Rams dropped them to 1-6 on the year. With days to go before the trade deadline, the Falcons jumped at the chance to build for 2020 and beyond.

Sanu missed out on a New Jersey homecoming when the Patriots steamrolled the Jets on Monday night, but he will get to reunite friends in New England, including former Rutgers teammates Jason McCourty and Devin McCourty. He also figures to pad the stat sheet. So far this year, Sanu has 33 catches for 313 yards and one touchdown. It stands to reason that with nine games to go on New England’s slate, he could top last year’s career high of 838 yards and find pay dirt many times over.

Speaking of pay – Sanu has two years to go on his current deal. The Pats will have him at a $7.65MM cap figure this year and a $7.9MM number in 2020, though they could theoretically release him without fiscal penalty next year.

With Sanu, the Patriots boast one of the scariest receiver groups in the NFL and enough weapons to (almost) make Tom Brady forget that Rob Gronkowski isn’t around anymore. The WR depth chart, at present:

Meanwhile, the Falcons figure to continue their fire sale between now and next Tuesday’s deadline. They’d like to move defensive end Vic Beasley and they figure to field offers for the likes of edge rusher De’Vondre Campbell and tight end Austin Hooper.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Falcons’ Trade Chips

If the Falcons had their way, they’d trade defensive end Vic Beasley. However, it sounds like wideout Mohamed Sanu might be tougher to pry away.’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that rival teams could pursue either of these players from the 1-6 Falcons, but one would naturally be easier to acquire than the other.

According to Rapoport, teams tried to acquire Sanu during the draft, but the Falcons resisted those overtures. With the team struggling and Sanu playing in the second-to-last season of his contract, some have wondered if the receiver could be available. The 30-year-old would naturally be attractive to teams that need a wideout. After setting a career high with 838 receiving yards last season, Sanu has hauled in 33 receptions for 313 yards and one score in seven games this season.

Beasley’s availability makes a lot more sense, as the 27-year-old is still set to make more than $6.5MM through the rest of this season. Plus, his onfield production hasn’t justified the money; after Pro Football Focus graded Beasley as its worst full-time edge defender in 2018, the former first-rounder is struggling again in 2019. In seven games, Beasley has compiled 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

We heard earlier this month that impending free agents like Beasley, De’Vondre Campbell and Austin Hooper are on some teams’ radars. Projected to be more than $10MM over the 2020 cap, the Falcons will almost certainly have to let some of these UFAs-to-be walk if they are not traded. However, the Falcons could fetch 2021 compensatory picks for them, potentially complicating trade talks.

The trade deadline is next Tuesday, October 29th.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu To Miss Time

Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is expected to miss two-to-three weeks with a hamstring injury, reports Vaughn McClure of, while defensive lineman Jack Crawford has a biceps issue which “doesn’t look good,” a source tells McClure. Atlanta is “planning on moving forward” without Crawford, tweets D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an indication Crawford could be done for the season.Mohamed Sanu (Vertical)

Sanu’s injury is doubly concerning given that Falcons No. 1 wideout Julio Jones left the club’s Week 4 loss with a hip flexor. Jones is not expected to miss any games, but his health history isn’t exactly promising. Without Sanu, Atlanta will turn to Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy, Andre Roberts, and Nick Williams to play more snaps. Through four games, Sanu had managed 16 receptions for 163 yards and one touchdown.

Atlanta’s defensive line hardly withstand another loss, as Vic Beasley will be sidelined for another three weeks or so while Courtney Upshaw is also dealing with injury. Crawford, who signed as a free agent this offseason, has played on roughly 40% of the Falcons’ defensive snaps, but graded as just the No. 82 interior defender among 120 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Head coach Dan Quinn will meet with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff about adding defensive line reinforcements, per McClure (Twitter link). The obvious free agent solution could speculatively be Dwight Freeney, who appeared in 15 games for Atlanta in 2016. Quinn said last month that the Falcons are still in contact with Freeney, but the club had no interest in signing him at that time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Wisniewski, Jaguars, Giants, Sanu

The latest free agent rumors:

  • Center Stefen Wisniewski remains an option to return as a starter for the Jaguars, but he is still shopping himself around, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets. The Jaguars, meanwhile, continue to seek out depth on the offensive line. Cowboys free agent guard Mackenzy Bernadeau is visiting the Jaguars, Todd Archer of tweets.
  • New Falcons receiver Mohamed Sanu says that his agent indicated that the Giants, Chargers, Patriots, Bucs, Titans, and Washington were all interested in him, as Vaughn McClure of tweets.
  • The Raiders sniffed around Jerrell Freeman but they seem closer to signing a different inside linebacker in Erin Henderson, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Jets are also after Henderson, he adds.
  • Browns free agent linebacker Craig Robertson is on his way to visit the Seahawks, Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer tweets.

Contract Details: Sanu, Lane, Harris, Jones

Here are some of the latest details on recently agreed-upon or signed contracts from around the NFL.

  • Mohamed Sanu, WR (Falcons): Five years, $32.5MM. $14MM guaranteed. $7MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $1MM, $6MM, $6MM, $6MM, $6.5MM. (via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, on Twitter). Can earn additional $1.25MM based on receptions, per’s Vaughn McClure (on Twitter).
  • Jeremy Lane, CB (Seahawks): Four years, $23MM. $11MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $2MM, $4MM, $6MM, $6MM (Twitter link via Wilson). $7MM fully guaranteed. Lane’s $4MM salary in 2017 guaranteed in February 2017, per Tom Pelissero of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • Mike Harris, OL (Vikings): One year, $2MM. $500K of $1.9MM base salary fully guaranteed. $100K workout bonus. (via Wilson, on Twitter). Can earn $1.05MM in incentives, per Pelissero (on Twitter).
  • Mason Foster, ILB (Washington): Two years, $2.5MM. $350K signing bonus. Can earn $1.6MM in playing-time incentives, per Pelissero (on Twitter).
  • Adam Jones, CB (Bengals): Three years, $24MM. $16MM in 2016-17, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (on Twitter).
  • Kellen Clemens, QB (Chargers): One year, $1.065MM. $80K roster bonus, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter).