A former Rutgers quarterback, Sanu played with several current Patriots back in college including the McCourty twins and Duron Harmon.
The move, while filling a need for New England, might force the Patriots to do a little more tinkering with their roster than they may have wanted.
New England only has about $2.4 million in cap space available for the remainder of the season and brought in a player who’s cap hit is more than what the Patriots can afford. Now, New England must not only make a corresponding move to free up a roster spot but also some money to fit Sanu onto the roster.
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How Much is Sanu’s Contract?
The veteran receiver is under team control through the 2020 season, which makes sacrificing a second-round pick in the draft a worthy investment for the Patriots seeing as Sanu isn’t a flight risk in the offseason.
The Falcons did not have enough cap space at the start of the season to pay Sanu with a signing bonus, so most of the money owed to him is salary-based.
So Sanu is set to make an additional $3.5 million this season off a $7.65 million salary to start the season. His contract for next year includes a cap hit of $7.9 million which would make him the team’s highest-paid receiver ahead of Julian Edelman.
What Are Possible Moves?
The Patriots will need to unload at least one player to fit Sanu onto the roster both personnel-wise and salary-wise.
A widely speculated move New England could make as soon as Tuesday could be to ship recently-suspended Michael Bennett out of town. Bennett, whose suspension stemmed from a disagreement over playing time, is clearly unhappy with his situation in New England and has seen his snap numbers drop as a result.
If the Patriots were to get rid of Bennett, it would be a salary dump that would free up an additional $2.6 million in cap space — more than enough to add Sanu to the roster.
Another possible move the Patriots might make is to unload one of its tight ends. When Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo are both back, there’s not a need to have four tight ends which creates a whole other roster tinkering issue.
Finally, it’s entirely possible the Patriots find a trade partner for a younger player on offense like Jakobi Meyers. He’s clearly proven that he can fit into an NFL offense and is now looking like surplus for the Patriots with both Sanu and N’Keal Harry set to enter the fold.
The Patriots, who signed Meyers as an undrafted free agent, may choose to move him and get some value in the form of a draft pick rather than keep him as a spare part.