Mohamed Sanu

Lions To Promote Mohamed Sanu

After two weeks on the Lions’ practice squad, Mohamed Sanu is set to return to game action. The Lions are promoting the veteran wide receiver, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Sanu played in three games for the injury-depleted 49ers this season but did not make much of an impact. He may have another chance to play a key role Sunday, with the Lions down both Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. This will be Golladay’s third straight absence.

Prior to the Patriots sending a second-round pick to the Falcons for Sanu, he had enjoyed a solid run of production in Cincinnati and Atlanta. Sanu fared well as a Julio Jones supporting-caster, but after the Falcons drafted Calvin Ridley, they moved on from their previous WR2. Sanu did not fare as well in New England and wound up a cap casualty this offseason.

The 31-year-old receiver will interestingly reunite with Marvin Jones, with the former Bengal teammates now doubling as by far Matthew Stafford‘s most accomplished wideouts. Jones and Sanu played together from 2012-15, but A.J. Green‘s sidekicks parted ways in the ’16 offseason when Jones signed with Detroit and Sanu landed in Atlanta.

The Lions also promoted defensive lineman Frank Herron from their practice squad.

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Lions Sign Mohamed Sanu

The Lions have signed wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the practice squad, per a club announcement. Sanu auditioned for Detroit on Monday and showed enough to land a deal with the 3-4 squad. 

Sanu is both experienced and well-traveled at this point. Last year, the Patriots acquired him from the Falcons in exchange for a second-round pick. Then, in September, the Pats surprised many by releasing him outright. After that, he had a brief 49ers stint with old pal Kyle Shanahan before landing with the Lions.

Sanu underwhelmed in his eight regular season games (six starts) with the Patriots last year, hauling in 26 receptions (on 47 targets) for 207 yards and one score. He was also invisible during New England’s playoff loss to the Titans as he caught just one pass for eleven yards. All in all, Sanu has registered 404 receptions for 4,516 yards (11.2 yards per catch) and 26 touchdowns over the course of his career.

Now, the 31-year-old will be on call for the Lions, who are keeping a close eye on Kenny Golladay‘s hip injury. If he’s called up to the main roster, he’ll have an opportunity to pair with one-time Bengals teammate Marvin Jones Jr.

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Lions Work Out Mohamed Sanu

The Lions will audition Mohamed Sanu on Monday afternoon (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Field Yates). Sanu could provide depth for the Lions i the wake of with Kenny Golladay’s hip injury. 

Sanu has bounced around quite a bit lately. The veteran underwhelmed in his eight regular season games (six starts) with the Patriots last year, hauling in 26 receptions (on 47 targets) for 207 yards and one score. He was also invisible during New England’s playoff loss to the Titans as he caught just one pass for eleven yards.

The Patriots dropped Sanu in the fall to save money, leading him to a reunion with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. That was short-lived — Sanu was let go in early October just as Deebo Samuel and Richie James returned to action.

Sanu isn’t the player he once was, but he still represents a solid midseason boost for a Lions team that could use an extra set of hands. Golladay is Detroit’s No. 1 receiver, and his skills were on full display recently in back-to-back 105 yard games. At minimum, he’ll be out for this Sunday against the Vikings. And, from the sound of it, he’ll need additional time to recover too.

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Trade Notes: Harris, Texans, Geno, Browns

After trading Yannick Ngakoue, the Vikings appear to be reopening the door to dealing their franchise player. Anthony Harris is again available, per Albert Breer of SI.com. The Vikings discussed at least one tag-and-trade deal involving the 2019 breakout player-turned-tag recipient this offseason but moved forward with Harris as a starter for the third season. The price was believed to be a Day 2 pick at that point. Harris has more than half of his $11.4MM tag salary due. Harris joins safety mate Harrison Smith, tight end Kyle Rudolph and left tackle Riley Reiff as available Viking veterans.

Here is more from the trade market, with five days to go until the deadline:

  • We have heard trade rumors surrounding the bulk of the Texans‘ receiving corps. The Packers, among others, inquired about Will Fuller; Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks have also come up in talks. The Texans are prepared to part with any of their wideouts — for the right offer, of course. Every Texan except Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Tytus Howard is available, Breer adds. Fuller and Kenny Stills are on expiring contracts; Cobb is signed through 2022; Cooks through ’23.
  • NFL INT leader Xavien Howard has surfaced as a name to watch ahead of the deadline. While the Dolphins have fielded calls on the fifth-year cornerback, they have not received a firm offer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The Dolphins also appear dead-set against dealing Howard, with Jackson adding that it would likely take multiple first-round picks (an unrealistic ask) for Miami to consider a deal. Howard is in the first season of a five-year, $75MM contract.
  • The Bengals traded all-time sack leader Carlos Dunlap to the Seahawks, and teams are wondering if the franchise’s No. 2 all-time sacker (Geno Atkins) is available. Teams have contacted the Bengals on the 11th-year defensive tackle but have been told he is not being traded, Breer notes. Atkins is signed through 2022, and although he has voiced frustration about his role, the Bengals will hang onto the perennial Pro Bowler.
  • In the thick of the AFC playoff race at 5-2, the Browns may still be dangling Olivier Vernon. Although the veteran defensive end came off Cleveland’s trade block this summer, the Browns shopped him for a while. They may be doing so again, with Breer indicating the 30-year-old edge rusher is being viewed as available. However, the Browns would move to replace the veteran opposite Myles Garrett. They were in on the first Nkagoue sweepstakes in August but lost out to the Vikings. In the final year of his contract, Vernon does not have a sack this season.
  • Entering their Week 8 game, the Panthers may be straddling the buyer-seller line at 3-4. However, they are still in a rebuilding phase in Matt Rhule‘s first season. Any buyer’s deal Carolina makes would be for a player controllable beyond this season rather than a rental who could help the team secure a wild-card spot, Joe Person of The Athletic writes (subscription required).
  • Prior to signing Mohamed Sanu as injury insurance this year, the 49ers finished second to the Patriots for Sanu at last year’s deadline. The 49ers offered the Falcons a third-round pick for Sanu, Breer notes, but the Pats gave up a second-round pick. San Francisco’s subsequent Emmanuel Sanders addition ended up being more impactful, and Sanu is currently training for his next opportunity.

49ers To Release Mohamed Sanu

The 49ers will release wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. With Deebo Samuel and Richie James on the mend, the Niners will shift their focus to their younger targets. Meanwhile, Sanu is now available for teams in need of an experienced receiver.

Sanu joined the Niners just a few weeks ago on a deal worth just over the veteran’s minimum. The former Bengals, Falcons, and Patriots wideout reunited with former Falcons coach Kyle Shanahan, but the party didn’t last long. Sanu suited up for three games, but he leaves SF with just one catch for nine yards from their Week 2 romp over the Giants.

The 31-year-old didn’t impress in his eight regular season games (six starts) with the Patriots last year, either. He finished out with 26 grabs (on 47 targets) for 207 yards and one score. Then, he was invisible during New England’s playoff loss to the Titans as he caught just one pass for eleven yards. Although he’s accomplished and experienced, the Niners are far more fixated on the acrobatics of rookie Brandon Aiyuk and the rest of the bunch.

In 2018, Sanu turned in perhaps the best performance of his career, catching 66 passes for 838 yards and four TDs with the Falcons. He might not be able to reprise that performance, but he will try to get a bit closer to that.

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NFC West Rumors: 49ers, Hopkins, Rams

Hit hard by injuries this summer, the 49ers‘ passing attack will be a shell of its optimal version Sunday. The 49ers declared George Kittle out Friday with a sprained knee. Kittle will not travel with the team to New York but will instead meet his teammates in West Virginia, where the 49ers will practice next week in between their road tilts against the Jets and Giants, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com tweets. While the 49ers are expected to have first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk make his NFL debut, being down Kittle and top wideout Deebo Samuel (on IR) will not make matters easy for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • DeAndre Hopkins signed a lucrative two-year, $54MM add-on with the Cardinals add-on recently. He will go from earning $26MM through 2021 on his previous deal to making $42.75MM — all fully guaranteed — in that span, according to Albert Breer of SI.com (on Twitter). Hopkins’ $6.65MM 2022 base salary vests in March 2021, Breer adds. Signed through 2024, Hopkins will receive $60.1MM over the deal’s first three years — up from the $39.1MM he would have collected under the terms of his Texans-constructed contract. The final two years of Hopkins’ new deal — 2023 and ’24 — are option years, Breer adds (via Twitter).
  • Despite eating a stunning $21.8MM in dead money from their Brandin Cooks trade, the Rams dived back into the fray of high-end receiver contracts. Their three-year, $47.25MM Cooper Kupp deal includes $35.1MM guaranteed and $20.3MM in full guarantees, according to OverTheCap. Woods’ four-year, $65MM pact, which comes with $32MM guaranteed, will only pay him $4.5MM over the next two years — which were part of his previous Rams contract. However, the deal’s first new year (2022) comes with $13.5MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • More injury trouble for Dee Ford. The 49ers pass rusher is now battling a neck issue and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Ford, who did not practice this week, has run into extensive injury trouble during his time with the 49ers. He played through knee, quad and hamstring issues in 2019 and missed time during camp with a calf malady. The 49ers restructured Ford’s contract to create cap space; the move will make it more difficult for the team to cut or trade Ford in 2021.
  • Mohamed Sanu‘s 49ers deal is worth a tad more than the veteran minimum. The former Bengals, Falcons and Patriots wideout signed a one-year pact worth around $1.125MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, adding that Sanu will receive a $137.5K bonus — despite being an in-season addition. Although the 31-year-old target struggled to assimilate in New England, he played under Kyle Shanahan with the 2016 Falcons.
  • The Seahawks are still on the lookout for pass-rushing help. The team brought in former Chiefs second-round edge rusher Breeland Speaks for a recent workout, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. A 2018 draftee, Speaks could not make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster. He missed all of last season due to injury.

49ers Sign Mohamed Sanu

The 49ers have agreed to sign Mohamed Sanu to a one-year contract, according to an announcement from his agent (Twitter link). The deal reunites the wide receiver with Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, who worked with the veteran in Atlanta. 

[RELATED: Ziggy Ansah Leaves 49ers Without Deal]

Sanu, 31, underwhelmed during his eight regular season games (six starts) with the Patriots, hauling in 26 receptions (on 47 targets) for 207 yards and one score. He was also invisible during New England’s playoff loss to the Titans as he caught just one pass for eleven yards. Earlier this month, the Patriots dropped Sanu to save $6.5MM in cap space.

Sanu’s low-cost deal could pay serious dividends for SF. Despite his iffy 2019, he’s only a season removed from a campaign where he finished with a career-high 838 receiving yards to go along with 66 receptions and four touchdowns. There should also be ample opportunity for him, considering all of the injuries in the 49ers’ WR group. Deebo Samuel won’t return until Week 4 at the earliest, first-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk is coming off of a hamstring injury, and Jalen Hurd is out for the year with a torn ACL. This could be Sanu’s time to shine, starting this Sunday against the Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Place Tavon Austin On IR

It’s a bad year to be a 49ers wide receiver. Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com reports that Tavon Austin, whom San Francisco signed last month due to injuries to other wideouts, is headed to IR with a knee injury (Twitter link). Austin was signed on the same day as J.J. Nelson, who was recently placed on IR as well.

It’s an especially tough break for Austin, who was performing well in training camp and who may have been a valuable chess piece in head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s offense. Deebo Samuel appears unlikely to be available at the start of the season, first-round rookie Brandon Aiyuk‘s hamstring injury makes his status uncertain, and Jalen Hurd will miss the entire campaign due to an ACL tear, so Austin may actually have been in line for a sizable role.

The good news for the Niners is that Richie James has been activated from the NFI list. James had been dealing with a broken wrist, but it appears that he is on track for Week 1. He has served as the club’s primary return specialist over the last two seasons, and with Austin out of the picture, it seems likely that he will reprise that role in 2020.

The 49ers, though, could still use some depth at WR, and one wonders if the recently-released Mohamed Sanu could spark GM John Lynch‘s interest. As Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk writes, Lynch did not rule out a potential Sanu signing when asked about it this afternoon. Sanu played for Shanahan in Atlanta in 2016, when the latter was working as the Falcons’ OC.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Release Mohamed Sanu

Mohamed Sanu‘s stint with the Patriots has already come to an end. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that New England has released the veteran wideout.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise; it was less than a year ago that the Patriots sent a second-rounder to Atlanta for the receiver. However, the 31-year-old underwhelmed during his eight regular season games (six starts) with New England, hauling in 26 receptions (on 47 targets) for 207 yards and one score. He was also invisible during the Patriots’ playoff loss to the Titans, as he caught a single 11-yard pass.

Sanu landed on PUP to start camp in early August, and reports have indicated that he’s been a step slow throughout the month. Ultimately, the Patriots decided to just move on from the veteran, clearing the team $6.5MM in cap space.

There are plenty of receiver-needy teams throughout the NFL, so it shouldn’t take Sanu very long to find another gig. Plus, he’s only a season removed from a 2018 campaign where he finished with a career-high 838 receiving yards to go along with 66 receptions and four touchdowns.

While the Patriots offense was already going to look a whole lot different in 2020 with Cam Newton at the helm, it was still assumed that Sanu would lead the depth chart along with Julian Edelman. Now, the team will see what they can get from former first-rounder N’Keal Harry, as well as the likes of Damiere Byrd, Gunner Olszewski, and Devin Ross.

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East Notes: Cowboys, Prescott, Patriots, Sanu

Dak Prescott is discussing a long-term deal with the Cowboys, but the patient approach could also pay off for the quarterback. As Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes, Kirk Cousins is in great shape after playing on back-to-back franchise tags with his former club. From 2018-2022, Cousins’ $150MM cash value ranks second overall in the NFL, behind only Aaron Rodgers ($150.95MM). Meanwhile, he tops the chart with his guarantees ($150MM, 100% locked in).

That fact isn’t lost on Prescott, who has rejected offers from the Cowboys in the past. His camp is currently seeking a four-year deal that would make him the league’s highest-paid player on an annual basis with upwards of $35MM per year. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are pushing for a five-year pact.

Here’s more from the East divisions (and, by that, we mean some Pats items):

  •  Mohamed Sanu is “way ahead” of the curve as he returns from ankle surgery, trainer Hilton Alexander tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “I would tell you he’s probably faster, quicker, leaner and in better shape now than prior to the surgery,” Alexander said. “I would say he’s way ahead of any doctor’s knowledge or prediction where he would have been at this point. Way ahead of the curve.” With a healthy Sanu – plus Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and a solid supporting cast – the Pats can stand pat at WR.
  • If the NFL salary cap is reduced next year due to a revenue decrease, it could work to the Patriots‘ advantage. As Tom Curran of NBC Sports explains, the Pats currently have $124MM committed to 55 players in 2021. If the cap falls from $198MM, most teams will be left scrambling to shed expensive contracts. The Patriots, on the other hand, would be in good shape and able to scoop up those available vets.
  • Jamal Adams wants out, but it remains to be seen whether the Jets will trade him. In a recent poll, PFR readers were split on whether Adams will stay or go.