NFL Trade Rumors: Pro-Bowl Receiver on the Block?

emmanuel sanders

Getty Emmanuel Sanders.

As the Denver Broncos sit back and assess the state of their team during a Week 7 bye, trade talks around the NFL have begun to swirl. One of the biggest trade pieces comes in the form of Denver receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

The veteran and two-time Pro Bowler is in his tenth NFL season, sixth with the Broncos, and is proving to be a hot commodity for various Super Bowl contenders looking to bring in an experienced pass-catcher at the trade deadline. Sanders, who has won a Super Bowl and has three 1,000-yard seasons in his career, is among the best options available this season.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Broncos are getting calls about trading Sanders and the possibility of a deal materializing is extremely real.

Some of the likely destinations Schefter reported included the league’s lone unbeaten teams — San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots.

The 49ers would likely make a larger push for Sanders given San Francisco currently ranks 22nd in receiving yards per game with 235. San Francisco also only has 103 total catches on the year for 1,179 total yards — 27th in the NFL.

But the Patriots have the assets Denver is looking for — a second-day draft pick. The Patriots have three selections in the third round, two compensatory, and would likely include one of those picks in the deal.

Can New England Afford Sanders?

It would be very difficult for New England to make this deal possible. The Patriots have a very tight cap window currently and not a lot of players they can trade.

According to Nora Princiotti of the Boston Globe, the Patriots would need about $5 million in cap space to make the deal happen given Sanders’ prorated contract. Is it possible? Yes, but it won’t be easy.

New England could be looking to trade away Michael Bennett. Currently suspended for conduct detrimental to the team after an argument with assistant coach Bret Bielema, Bennett has voiced his unhappiness about his current role in New England.

With Denver’s pass-rushing star Bradley Chubb out for the season with a torn ACL, Bennett could help anchor a thin defensive line while providing some veteran presence. His role would be more defined there and by offloading him, the Patriots would be able to afford Sanders. A win-win for both parties.

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Is San Francisco the Preferred Destination?

The 49ers don’t even have to do any tinkering as they currently have over $18 million in cap space. With plenty of room to sign Sanders, the 49ers could make him an immediate star in the Bay Area.

Though San Francisco isn’t thin at receiver — far from it in fact — there isn’t much veteran presence outside of Jordan Matthews who has yet to catch a pass this season. The two yardage leaders out of wide receivers are Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin, combining for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

Sanders, this season, has 367 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns himself. Now put him in an offense with Jimmy Garoppolo under center and a talented tight end in George Kittle (338 receiving yards) drawing defenders and you could get a true star out of Sanders.

There are two concerns, however, for the 49ers. First, with Sanders’ contract set to expire after this season there’s a likelihood he may only be a rental. And second, the Broncos could be looking for a second or third-round pick. With the 49ers’ second-round pick hanging in the balance due to trade conditions from acquiring Dee Ford, it may force San Francisco to go without a pick on Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

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