The New Orleans Saints signed veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a two-year deal worth up to $19 million, giving Drew Brees another dangerous weapon in his already-stacked offensive arsenal.
The Saints were shopping for a veteran #2 wideout to play behind All-Pro Michael Thomas after Ted Ginn hit the free-agent market. Sanders, a consummate slot receiver, will be an ideal complement to Thomas.
Sanders, 33, won a Super Bowl ring with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. He also appeared in Super Bowl LIV with the San Francisco 49ers after the Broncos traded him after Week 7.
Who is Emmanuel Sanders?
Hometown: Bellville, TX
Career Stats: 601 receptions, 42 TDs, and 7,893 yards
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Sanders out of SMU in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the Steelers, but his career took off in Denver.
In 2014, Sanders set career-high across the board thanks to Peyton Manning. Sanders caught 101 receptions for 1,404 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
Brees + Thomas + Sanders = Scream Emoji
In a rare happenstance, Sanders played in 17 games last season because he got traded during a bye week. He played in seven games with the Broncos and finished the season with 10 games with the Niners. In those 17 games, Sanders caught 66 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns.
Last season with the Niners, Sanders put on a clinic in the Superdome during a 48-46 thriller for the ages. Sanders torched the Saints’ secondary for 157 yards on seven catches. He punctuated his Big Easy performance with a 75-yard touchdown strike.
Several teams were interested in Sanders including the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. In the end, the Saints and Drew Brees won out.
“If I’m just playing for the money and then we talk about longevity, it’s not worth it for me,” said Sanders. “I love playing football, I love being happy, I love winning games, and I think that’s going to be definitely the ultimate deciding factor of where I go.”
Who knows how much gas Brees has left in his tank? Everyone in Who Dat Nation is well aware that this could be the last season Brees suits up in black and gold. The addition of Sanders made it crystal clear that the Saints aren’t wasting their last shot to win one more championship before Brees hands it up.
Help Wanted in SF: Wide Receiver
Even though Sanders played in only 10 games with the Niners in the regular season, he emerged as a mentor to their young wideouts, Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne.
“We got a lot of young guys (at) receiver,” said San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan. “That’s why we thought it was important to bring in Emmanuel. And he did everything and more. I do not think we would have got to where we got without Emmanuel.”
After losing Sanders, the Niners are also shopping for a replacement. They could add free-agent Taylor Gabriel, who coach Shanahan knows well from his old days with the Atlanta Falcons. The Niners also have the #13 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
According to a recent update by William Hill, the San Francisco 49ers are 9/1 odds to win the 2021 Super Bowl. The Niners are third on the futures board behind Kansas City and Baltimore.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints are right behind the Niners at 12/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.