DENVER (CBS SPORTS) – Emmanuel Sanders has now been with the Broncos for longer than he was with the Steelers and he’s under contract through the upcoming season, but he could still be on his way out of Denver this offseason as a salary cap casualty.
Owed just a hair under $13 million, Sanders ranks as the 15th priciest receiver in 2018. The Broncos can save a little more than $10 million by cutting him, per Spotrac. He’ll turn 32 next month. He’s coming off a torn Achilles. And he’s apparently unwilling to rework his contract to remain in Denver.
Take it from Sanders, who tweeted on Tuesday that a restructured contract “ain’t happening.”
Really, why would Sanders go out of his way to stay with the Broncos by taking less money?
He’s been talking about his frustrations with the state of the Broncos offense since 2016 — and rightly so. Ever since Peyton Manning retired, Sanders has been forced to catch passes from subpar starting quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Case Keenum. The Broncos just traded for Joe Flacco, who won’t be much of an upgrade over Keenum. There’s no reason for Sanders to take less money to stay with a Broncos team that doesn’t have a good quarterback and is stuck in the same division as the Chiefs and Chargers. He’d be wasting away one of the final years of his career.
Considering where he’s at in his career, Sanders would be absolutely right to prioritize money and winning. Given his age and recent injury, it seems unlikely that Sanders will land a lucrative contract if he gets released by the Broncos. But he could pick a team that has a better chance of winning in the short term than the Broncos, and a receiver-needy team that feels like they’re a contender could be willing to take a chance on a player with 7,024 receiving yards and 37 touchdown catches in what has been a productive nine-year career.
After splitting those nine years between Pittsburgh and Denver, it certainly looks like Sanders will be spending his 10th season with a new team.