Another of the top free-agent wide receivers was taken off the market Friday night, but not before the Green Bay Packers made him an offer.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Emmanuel Sanders is signing a two-year, $16 million contract with the New Orleans Saints after the two-time Pro Bowl wideout spoke about potential fits with both the Packers and Dallas Cowboys. He was an unrestricted free agent after splitting the past season with the Denver Broncos and, after the trade deadline, the San Francisco 49ers.
While his deal is worth up to $19 million, Sanders was secured as a weapon for quarterback Drew Brees for about the same price as the Chicago Bears paid for veteran tight end Jimmy Graham.
Let that sink in for a moment.
While Schefter didn’t say whether Sanders received offers from the other two teams, the Packers’ interest in speaking with him at all suggests general manager Brian Gutekunst could still have a move or two up his sleeve in free agency. The Packers have about $12.5 million left in spendable cap after making a pair of street signings to start the week, according to CPA Ken Ingalls.
The Packers could certainly use a reliable No. 2 receiver to pair with top wideout Davante Adams much in the way that Sanders will now fit alongside Saints star Michael Thomas. While there are some promising options coming back for 2020, there is a growing pressure to add win-now talent to the roster and maximize the remaining years of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ career.
Adding more wide receivers to the roster before training camp seems like a foregone conclusion for the Packers, but the real question is whether they will secure an established player on the market or invest one or multiple draft picks in a historically deep 2020 receiver class.
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Some Good Free-Agent Receivers Still Available
Sanders landing with the Saints takes another impressive free agent out of play, but the Packers could still find their No. 2 on the market somewhere more in their price range.
One possibility is Robby Anderson, who had previously been looking at a market of about $13-15 million but projects to sign for less given what Sanders’ got in his deal. The New York Jets would be immediate contenders to re-sign their star wideout, but Anderson did name-drop Green Bay as an appealing destination during last week’s appearance on ESPN.
If the price is right, he could become an instant difference-maker for the Packers offense. A more cap-conscious signing might better fit the Packers’ needs, though.
Breshad Perriman is a popular choice in the affordable category. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could still attempt to bring him back for the Tom Brady party, but he would be a valuable deep-ball asset, like Anderson, who could fall perfectly within the Packers’ budget.
There is also Taylor Gabriel, who the Packers have watched struggle to reach his full potential with the Bears for the past two seasons and could put to better use with Rodgers throwing to him. It wouldn’t even be the first time in the last year the Packers have swept in and signed one of their rival’s free agents, so what’s stopping them from doing it again?
A perfect match could still be out there for the Packers. Don’t count Gutekunst out just yet.