CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Emmanuel Sanders' timeline required interpretation.
On Saturday, the same day Broncos general manager John Elway said the team was waiting to hear back from the wide receiver's camp regarding a contract proposal, Sanders tweeted "Roll the (Dice) -- Bet on yourself."
I asked Sanders Sunday if that related directly to his contract negotiations, meaning he was prepared to go into the season in the last year of his deal.
"I bet on myself every year," he said with a smile.
But what about a contract extension? Does he believe it will get done?
"I am still hopeful," said Sanders, showing the optimism he has featured for months.
The reality is the math changed eight days ago. When the Los Angeles Rams' Tavon Austin received a four-year, $42-million deal with $25 million guaranteed, the landscape shifted. Sanders is not prepared to take less than Austin. He didn't elaborate, but he didn't have to. Sanders' numbers are far superior to the Rams speedy wideout. A look at the last two seasons suggests Sanders is in the same market as receivers who have all received $10 million annually and at least $20 million guaranteed. Salary numbers according to Spotrac.com:
Sanders: 177 catches, 2,539 yards, 15 TDs, 31 games, final season of 3-year, $15 million deal, $6M guaranteed.
Austin: 88 catches, 658 yards, five TDs, 31 games, 4-year, $42M, $25.5M guaranteed.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars: 115 catches, 1,708 yards, 16 TDs, 31 games, 4-year, $40.65M, $20M guaranteed.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks: 144 catches, 1,894 yards, 17 TDs, 32 games, 4-year, $46M, $24.25M guaranteed.
At 29, Sanders is older than all of the receivers who secured deals this offseason. However, he can argue he's entering his prime after spending the first portion of his career as a third or fourth target in Pittsburgh. Sanders, 5-foot-11 and roughly 197 pounds after adding 10 pounds of upperbody muscle this offseason, boasts toughness and durability. He has missed one game over the last four seasons, sitting out once last year because of a sprained ankle.
“The only thing that changed there was the other contract, Tavon Austin. We're moving in the right direction," Elway said on Saturday. "They're looking at that, but no, nothing has changed.”