With Emmanuel Sanders on the trade block with Denver, who could trade with the Broncos and become Super Bowl contenders this 2018 offseason.
For some fans, improving a team is like the old stork delivering a baby story: a team needs a playmaker on offense and the wide receiver stork just drops one off on the front stoop.
“All we have to do is draft a (really hard to find premium position player) and sign a (rarely available top player) and we’re going to the Super Bowl.”
OK guys. Except it just doesn’t work that way.
So when word bubbles out of Denver the Broncos could be interested in moving Emmanuel Sanders, a legitimate deep threat and versatile playmaker with the ball, teams should jump at an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.
His age and high price make him a poor fit for receiver-needy young teams like the Bears or the Jaguars (depending on what happens with Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee in free agency). The best move would be for a contending team to view Sanders as the piece that pushes them over the top.
Sanders would count nearly $11 million on the cap for 2018 in a potential trade, but would leave just $2.6 million in dead cap if he were cut after the season. In other words, he could be a one-year rental that doesn’t affect long-term cap flexibility.
The 30-year-old would be nearly $13 million on the cap in 2019 if he were to stay with a potential trade partner.
That’s a steep price for a position player with an age that starts with “3”, but Sanders was a dynamic weapon as recently as 2016 when he had actual NFL quarterback play.
Even if he’s just 80% of that guy, he has starting-caliber impact talent.
If all it takes is a mid-round pick to upgrade a key skill position group and help a team win a Super Bowl? Ask the Eagles how that worked out for them.
Here are five teams that should absolutely call John Elway about Sanders.
5. Baltimore Ravens
Bringing in Sanders would put the Ravens right up against the cap, but Ozzie Newsome, in his final season at the helm in Baltimore, has the acumen to get it figured out.
The move could also be to work on restructuring Sanders’ contract and potentially even work out an extension. Again, he’s only 30 and while the Ravens just signed Jeremy Maclin before the 2017 season, Maclin under-performed to go along with his long history of injuries.
Baltimore needs to improve their skill talent and give Joe Flacco every opportunity to succeed.
At this point, the contract is what it is (“hilarious” if you’re a non-Ravens fan). When GM-in-waiting Eric DeCosta takes over in 2019, that post-Super Bowl deal will still be an albatross for this team, but that means just eating the sunk cost.
He’s the quarterback, so make his life easier and actually give him guys to throw to. The defense is good enough to be a Super Bowl contender, but the offense is nowhere near close.
Alex Collins provided a spark and Mike Wallace showed he still has some juice in those legs, but beyond that the offense is ugly, including and especially Flacco.
Sanders is the kind of versatile playmaker who can get deep but also take a slant and pick up yards after the catch. It’s what the Ravens thought they were getting from Maclin.
He wouldn’t make them the favorites in the AFC, but Sanders would certainly elevate the Ravens into the realm of top teams in a weak conference as it stands.