Saints Release Former Steelers Wide Receiver

Emmanuel Sanders

Getty Images Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring against the Arizona Cardinals on October 23, 2011.

A decade ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers featured a mostly youthful receiving corps that dubbed itself “The Young Money Crew.” It included Mike “Fast Money” Wallace, Emmanuel “Easy Money” Sanders, Antonio “Cash Money” Brown and Hines “Old Money” Ward.

Well, now it’s Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, both 33, who are the NFL version of old money, both by virtue of being old and monied, with career earnings of $63,846,069 and $85,311,702, respectively. But as of Wednesday, Sanders is looking for a new NFL address, having been released by the New Orleans Saints in a cost-cutting move.

‘New Orleans, It’s Been Real’

Sanders confirmed the transaction via Instagram, writing: “New Orleans it’s been real. Sucks we didn’t bring a Super Bowl to the city which was the goal when I signed but it was a blessing to showcase my talents in front of you guys.”

Indeed he did continue showcase his talents last year, catching 61 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns. Not bad for a 5-foot-11 receiver who will soon turn 34 years old and will likely need to accept a one-year contract if he wants to continue his playing career, especially in light of all the talent available at the wide receiver position in free agency.

It’s worth noting that the former Steelers draft pick had his best years with the Denver Broncos between 2014 and 2016, when he had back-to-back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and earned Pro Bowl honors in both 2014 and 2016. More specifically, his high-water mark came in 2014, when he caught 101 passes for 1,404 yards with nine touchdown receptions.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that Sanders has been held back in recent years by the quarterbacks who have been throwing him the ball. Consider:

As for a potential return to the Steelers, such a move would not be unprecedented. Recall that WR Antwaan Randle El—who recently joined the staff of the Detroit Lions as wide receivers coach—came back to Pittsburgh in 2010 after spending four seasons in Washington.

Never mind the fact that the Steelers will need to add at least one—and possibly two receivers—if JuJu Smith-Schuster leaves via free agency. In that case, the Steelers seem likely to select a new wideout in the first three rounds of the draft, as this is yet another strong draft class at the wide receiver position.

Emmanuel Sanders’ NFL Journey

For his part, Sanders was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Steelers (No. 82 overall) out of Southern Methodist University. He played four years in Pittsburgh before signing with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent, staying until the middle of the 2019 season, when he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. Then in 2020, Sanders inked a two-year contract with New Orleans, where he padded his career stats.

Over the course of his 11-year career Sanders has played in 158 games and produced a total of 662 receptions for 8,619 receiving yards and 47 touchdown receptions.

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