The Denver Broncos made a huge move, the fourth in their initial free agent spending spree, by signing former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a three-year, $15 million with an additional $3 million available through incentives, per the team.
Sanders was a third round pick of the Steelers in 2010 out of SMU, and joins the Broncos after negotiating with the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers among other teams.
According to reports from Mike Klis of the Denver Post, the Broncos had initially ranked Sanders as their number one free agent receiver and had written him off because his price tag was supposed to be similar to the one that Eric Decker received from the New York Jets.
Sanders had apparently priced himself out of most teams’ spending range, and thus lowered his asking price and that’s when the Broncos got involved. The Broncos were allegedly in ‘deep’ negotiations with Carolina receiver Brandon LaFell, whom they had reported “huge interest” in via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport in the opening 24 hours of free agency.
Some NFL executives were upset with the way Sanders’ agent handled negotiations, especially with the Chiefs where he reportedly had verbally agreed to a deal before ultimately agreeing to sign with the Denver Broncos.
John Elway wins again.
The Broncos had a need for their #2 wide receiver spot, and Sanders will fill it. He’s not got the size of Eric Decker but he adds an element of speed and quickness to the Broncos’ offense that has been lacking a bit, and he can also return kicks/punts with Trindon Holliday leaving via free agency.
Sanders called the opportunity to play with Peyton Manning “wide receiver heaven” and is very excited about the chance to play in Denver.
Sanders has already received a message from Peyton Manning inviting him to the throwing sessions at Duke this offseason, and will join the Canton-bound quarterback for the sessions which Andre Caldwell was also elated to have been invited to.
With Sanders and Caldwell having more prominent roles this year, the Broncos figure to be more explosive offensively and still should use one of their top three picks on the wide receiver position.