Over the weekend, the Denver Broncos signed free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to replace the departed Eric Decker. This is a move that will only produce good things as Sanders will thrive in the Broncos’ offense.
Sanders is a rising star in the NFL and had his best season yet in 2013 on a struggling Pittsburgh Steelers squad. On an 8-8 team that averaged just 251.1 pass yards per game, Sanders did well for himself. He caught 67 passes for 740 yards and six touchdowns. He also moved the chains for a first down 37 times.
Now, Sanders joins the NFL’s best passing attack led by Peyton Manning. The fact that Sanders is catching passes from Manning alone is enough to make him a better player, but he’s also joining a scenario in which he won’t be asked to do it all. He was the featured guy in Pittsburgh, which meant he was double-covered often. In Denver, he won’t have to worry about that as much.
While they lost Decker, Denver still has Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas. Along with Decker, Demaryius Thomas also went for over 1,000 yards last season. With Sanders expected to fill in for Decker, why can’t he eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in his first year with the team this coming season?
Sanders is a versatile player who can wear a couple different hats. He can line up outside and be a true wideout or move inside and play the slot. With Welker’s head somewhat of a concern after his concussions last season, Sanders could find himself lining up closer to the line than he usually would. If Welker suffers another concussion, Sanders would likely fill that spot. Any way you slice this, he’s going to get a lot of playing time in an important role.
The fact that Sanders will be catching passes from Manning is enough to make this a match made in heaven. Denver acquired a player that is good enough to be a No. 1 receiver on many other teams, but he won’t garner that kind of attention thanks to the talent opposite of him. He’ll get to play as a No. 2 receiver, which is still glamorous in an offense as high-flying as Denver’s.
Due to an inability to protect the quarterback, the Steelers’ pass offense was fairly ineffective last season. Thanks to that, Sanders’ productivity was restricted. He has way more potential than his numbers show, and you can expect him to live up to that potential in 2014 with the Broncos.