There’s just one sticking point. Sanders is still officially a member of the New Orleans Saints, despite the fact that the team informed him he would be released more than a week ago.
ALL the latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!
As noted by Pelissero, Sanders expects that his walking papers will become official sometime after 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday (the start of the new league year). At that point he will fly to Buffalo to take a physical and finalize the contract.
Assuming all goes smoothly and Sanders does in fact become a member of the Bills, he will become the de facto replacement for wide receiver John Brown, though the two don’t necessarily have the same strengths. Brown was released by the Bills last week and subsequently said he would be a good fit for the Steelers offense.
Emmanuel Sanders Turns 34 Today
It’s notable, though, that Sanders had no trouble finding a new employer after becoming a salary cap casualty in New Orleans. Sanders, who celebrates his 34th birthday on Wednesday, is still producing at a high level, having hauled in 61 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns in 2020.
On the other hand, he’s a long way from his best NFL season, which came all the way back in 2014 (with QB Peyton Manning), when he caught 101 passes for 1,404 yards with nine touchdown receptions. In fact, between 2014 and 2016 he posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and earned Pro Bowl honors in two of those years (2014, 2016).
Emmanuel Sanders’ Career Path
Sanders was drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Steelers (No. 82 overall) out of Southern Methodist. He played four years in Pittsburgh, where ‘Easy Money’ Sanders was part of ‘The Young Money Crew’ of Steelers receivers that also included Hines ‘Old Money’ Ward, Antonio ‘Cash Money’ Brown and Mike ‘Fast Money’ Wallace.
In 2014 he signed with the Denver Broncos as an unrestricted free agent, where he stayed until the middle of the 2019 season, when he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. In 2020, Sanders inked a two-year contract with New Orleans, playing just one year before becoming a salary cap casualty.
Over the course of his 11-year NFL career Sanders has played in 158 games and produced a total of 662 receptions for 8,619 receiving yards and 47 touchdown receptions.
By agreeing to terms with the Bills, it puts an end to speculation that Sanders might return to Pittsburgh to finish his career, much like former Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle El did in 2010. Of course, with Sanders still able to command $6 million on the open market, he remained well out of Pittsburgh’s price range.
Assuming Steelers receiver JuJu Smith Schuster leaves Pittsburgh in free agency, as expected, it seems likely that the Steelers will try to replace him via the draft.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Steelers D-Lineman Tyson Alualu Going Back ‘To Where It All Started’
• Steelers Offensive Tackle Returns to Twitter, Announces New Contract
• Steelers Cornerback Signing with Division Rival: Report