Saints, Emmanuel Sanders agree to two-year, $16 million contract

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The New Orleans Saints may have finally found the coveted second wide receiver to start along side All-Pro star Michael Thomas.

Emmanuel Sanders agreed to a two-year deal with New Orleans, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the contract is worth $16 million.

Sanders played for the Denver Broncos last season until they traded him to the San Francisco 49ers in October. The SMU product totaled 66 receptions for 869 yards with five scores and helped the Niners make a run to the Super Bowl.

Draft by Pittsburgh in the third round of the 2010 draft, the now 33-year old Sanders played four years for the Steelers.

New Orleans Saints Agree To Terms With WR Emmanuel Sanders On Two-Year Contract
For Immediate Release: March 22, 2020

The New Orleans Saints announced today that they have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent WR Emmanuel Sanders on a two-year contract. The announcement was made by Saints’ Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

Sanders, 5-11, 180, is a ten-year NFL veteran who was originally selected by the Pittsburgh in the third round (82nd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Southern Methodist. In ten seasons for Pittsburgh (2010-13), Denver (2014-19) and San Francisco (2019), he’s played in 144 regular season games with 104 starts, recording career totals of 601 receptions for 7,893 yards (13.1 avg.) with 42 touchdowns, 18 carries for 159 yards with a 35-yard touchdown and completing all three passing attempts for 78 yards and two touchdowns, having been selected to two Pro Bowls. Sanders has played in three Super Bowls for the Steelers, Broncos (Super Bowl 50 champions) and 49ers, playing in 11 postseason contests with seven starts and recording 41 receptions for 519 yards (12.7 avg.).

Sanders split the 2019 season between the Broncos and 49ers, appearing in 17 regular season games combined with 16 starts and posting 66 receptions for 869 yards (13.2 avg.) and five scoring grabs, as well as completing a 35-yard pass for a touchdown when the 49ers played New Orleans on Dec. 8. In the postseason, Sanders started all three games for San Francisco and made five receptions for 71 yards

A 33-year-old native of Bellville, TX, Sanders attended Southern Methodist University where he finished his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (235), receiving yards (3,791), receiving touchdowns (34) and 100-yard receiving games (16). As a senior, he was named First-Team All-Conference USA and set single-season school records with 98 receptions for 1,339 yards along with seven touchdowns.

Off the field, Sanders was chosen as a Broncos Community Ambassador winner in 2017 after launching the Emmanuel Sanders Foundation, which supports financially disadvantaged families with support and resources.

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Sunday, March 22, 2020

Opening Statement:
“First of all, I just want to say how excited about joining the New Orleans Saints. I’ve been a fan of Sean Payton and Drew Brees for a very long time. I’ve seen them do it at a high level for a very long time and I’m excited to join (the team). Obviously, being a receiver in this offense is something special. It reminds me of 2014 when I linked up with Peyton (Manning) and we were passing the ball, slinging the ball and it was a pass happy offense. I’m excited to get back into a system like this. Hopefully do what I did in 2014 when I had one of my best years.”

What went into your decision to sign with New Orleans?
“To play with Drew Brees, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. How could I pass up that opportunity and to play in a Sean Payton system. It’s crazy, everytime I’ve played in New Orleans’ stadium, it’s always big-time, it’s always a good vibe and I just love the indoor environment, the black, the entire environment. I would be looking around and (thinking) ‘this is cool’. I’m excited about putting up a lot of points.”

Are you also happy to be closer to your hometown?
“Yes. One of the first people I talked to was my grandmother. She called me and my aunt was on the phone, it was free agency which had started. She said, we’re praying you go to New Orleans. The Texans had opportunity, the Cowboys maybe, but she loves that team (Saints). She loves Drew Brees, she loves Sean Payton, she loves the offense and she loves to watch them play. When I called her and told her she was so excited, not only that but she was excited because of that they can drive to the game if they want. I don’t know how much of a distance it is, but I know last year when we played against San Fran, we had 15 family members drive up, so it can’t be that long of a drive. That’s pretty cool to be back down South and be close to my family as well.”

Did you have a chance to talk to Thomas Morstead yet?
“No, I haven’t talked to Thomas yet with all the coronavirus and stuff going around, I’ve been sitting around relaxing. We’ll have a conversation. Thomas was one of my teammates (in college) and also (retired fullback) Zach Line. I played with Zach Line at SMU as well. I talked to him and he hit me up on Instagram and we talked.”

What is it like teaming up with Michael Thomas and in that offense?
“I’m just going to be me. I don’t know exactly what my role will be on the team yet, but whatever it is I’m going to do the best that I can possibly do to my abilities. My objective is to be the best I can possibly be, be the best player that I can possibly be and just try to win games in anyway possibly, whether it’s blocking, receiving, whatever they ask me to do I’m here to do it. I think ultimately the goal is to try to bring a Super Bowl to New Orleans and that’s the reason I signed that deal, because I have a great chance at winning another Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.”

Having won another Super Bowl what experience can you impart to Saints teammates that haven’t?
“The thing is they have a Super Bowl-winning coach, they have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Winning a Super Bowl is hard to do from the jump. I think that what’s special about it is to attain it, it requires a special group of guys with the right DNA to do be able to do it. I think the Saints have it, because they have proven players that have already done it. I think it’s really about coming together even more. That’s what I’m saying. When I get there I’m not going to try to push anyone, I’m just going to be who I am. I feel like my personality, I feel like I have a dog-type mentality. I feel like the Saints have a lot of dog-type mentality as well when I watch Drew Brees and how he executes. He loves to win and I can tell the way he plays. Michael Thomas, he plays with so much passion. I think that dog mentality and you combine that with a lot of love for the organization and team, I feel like that DNA right there is capable of winning games and winning it all. So, at the end we have to come together and do it collectively. There’s going to be games where it’s going to be crunch time and we have to get ourselves out of those games. I think that has a lot to do with team chemistry as well. When I get there I’m going to try to be the best teammate, at the same time I’m going to be me and hopefully it fits.”

Have you had any discussions with any of the offensive players on the team?
“Right when I signed, Drew had texted me to tell me how excited he was to play with me and I told him I was excited to play with him as well and pretty much that was it. We told each other we would see each other soon, but I’m ready to get to work, get the chemistry down and learn the offense. It’s exciting times for me and my family. I’m excited to be with the New Orleans Saints. You can’t take these times for granted to have a team like this. We have to take advantage of it. It’s not going to be easy. We have to put it all together and the only way we can do that is hard work. I feel they have the right nucleus here and I know what I’m going to bring to the table. I’m ready to work every day. I’m ready to do whatever I have to do, so that what we do is special here this year.”

I’m sure you haven’t taken time to break down the roles that players with similar builds and characteristics to you in Lance Moore and Willie Snead played in this offense, but from afar do you recognize things in this offense that provide you with a really good ability to be a fit to play inside and outside and the route combinations they run?
“Yes, I’ll tell you this humbly. For me, I feel like I can play inside, outside, run every single route and so for me it’s really about what Sean Payton wants me to do. At the end of the day, I’m just here to whatever I have to do. I’m a player where if they tell me to go block, I’m going to block. If you tell me to run this route, I’m going to run it. I feel like I put a lot of work in and stand on my work ethic alone and if I don’t know how to do it I’m going to work at it and work at it until I get it. That’s my mentality. I don’t know how they’re going to use me. I haven’t gotten into the X’s and O’s with Sean (Payton) or Drew Brees but I’m looking forward to seeing how it fits. In regards, I think I’ll be a good fit.”

What is it about playing with Drew Brees that is exciting for you?
“To be in a pass-happy offense. I’ve been in a pass-happy offense one time (with Peyton Manning in Denver). I was in a pass-happy offense when I was in college a lot. I was in a pass-happy offense in Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 and then in 2014 with Peyton Manning. ’14 was my best individual year. To be back in a pass-happy offense and spreading the ball around with a hall of fame quarterback is wide receiver heaven for me. I’m excited about the whole opportunity. I’m prepared for it, ready for it and I’m looking forward to getting out there and working.”

How have you been dealing with training and working during this coronavirus pandemic?
“Yes, it is very weird, but I have a gym that I go to that doesn’t have many people. I’ve been able to go over there and get workouts in and start back up tomorrow. But it’s crazy, with the head coach. It’s crazy times medically, but we will definitely perservere and stay strong and get through all of this. Right now I’ve been sitting at the house for hours upon hours and I think we can all agree to that, but I can’t wait until the day I can get outside and run around.”

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