By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – At a time when his former Steelers teammate, Antonio Brown, is doing his damndest to facilitate a trade, Emmanuel Sanders is taking his future with a grain of salt. The Denver Broncos’ top pass-catcher has been speculated as a potential offseason departure, a notion driven by his age, salary and a devastating Achilles’ tendon injury he suffered in 2018.
For those reasons, it’s unlikely Denver finds a trade partner for Sanders, and will simply be forced to cut their losses.
But it doesn’t mean Sanders can’t entertain the idea of being dealt to another NFL locale, such as he did on Twitter Monday evening, responding to a since-deleted tweet from a follower.
“Lol much love.:) If they do it is what it is,” he said. “All good things must come to an end. I gave it all I had and will continue to.”
Sanders was diagnosed with a torn Achilles’ on Dec. 5, cutting short a campaign in which he led the Broncos in receiving with 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns, returning to form as a play-making threat. He underwent corrective surgery the following day.
Sanders claimed on Dec. 31, a day after the season finale, that he’ll “definitely” be ready for Week 1 — no matter where.
“This is a six-month injury,” he said. “I heal fast, I’m taking all of the necessary steps to try to get back in five months. My body recovers fast, and that comes from eating healthy. This is about to be 2019, and the medicine is a lot better than it was even a year ago, or two years ago. I’ll be fine for sure.”
In the very next breath, though, Sanders cryptically addressed his long-term status, stating an implicit openness to divorce from Denver.
“I’m ready to be in a pass-happy offense (laughter),” he said. “That’s the direction that the league is going. I say that because I play wide receiver, but at the same time, we won the Super Bowl with a play action type of offense as well. It really doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s somebody who can score points. Score touchdowns, right. Passing touchdowns, run touchdowns, the goal is touchdowns and explosive plays. We’ll see who that is.”
Last week, Sanders posted a video indicating he’s shed his walking boot and moving around with a “slight limp.” His recovery timeline originally called for six months of rehabilitation.
Trading Sanders — currently the team’s third-most expensive player whom they signed in 2014, then extended in 2016 — would save the Broncos $10.250 million against the salary cap, leaving behind $2.687 million in dead money. The totals remain the same if they were to release him outright.
Per Spotrac.com, the Broncos must exercise Sanders’ 2019 end-of-contract year by Wednesday, March 13. Doing so would trigger $10.250 million in base salary and $1.5 million guaranteed.