ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Before Tuesday's sunrise, an NFL move shed light on the potential trade market for Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
The New England Patriots acquired veteran Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta for a second-round draft pick, per multiple reports, erasing a suitor for Sanders, but creating questions about his value.
Sanders boasts a better resume – he has three 1,000-yard seasons, compared to zero for Sanu – and compares favorably to him the past two seasons. Sanders has 30 catches for 367 yards and two touchdowns this year, but has longed for more targets in the Broncos’ underwhelming offense.
The compensation for Sanu remains intriguing as it relates to Sanders, but is not a direct correlation. Because Sanders is over 30 (32 to be exact) and has accrued 10 years service time, the Broncos would be in line for, at most, a fifth-round 2021 pick if he leaves as a free agent after this season, according to overthecap.com. While it can be argued the Patriots paid a high price for Sanu, he is 30 and under contract next season at a reasonable $6.5 million salary.
So what could the Broncos command for Sanders? There are at least three teams who need a receiver. That helps create leverage with San Francisco, Carolina, and Green Bay, all contenders who could use a veteran addition. To land a third-rounder, the Broncos might have to include a draft pick, like a sixth or seventh-round selection. It would hurt to include a pick, but the Broncos are in line to receive late-round compensatory selections, easing the sting. It's worth noting the Broncos have a history of trading with the 49ers because of the good relationship between general managers John Elway and John Lynch.
Under similar circumstances a year ago, the Broncos shipped veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas to Houston for a fourth-round selection. Sanders’ status became uncertain after the Broncos’ ugly 30-6 home loss to the Chiefs, making a U-turn less likely at 2-5 with road games remaining at Indianapolis, Minnesota, Buffalo, Houston and Kansas City.