Once the new CBA is announced this upcoming Thursday, we’ll hear about a lot of deals announced. The deals won’t be processed until March 18, once free agency begins. The legal tampering period starts two days before, on March 16. There are already deals taking place. The Buffalo Bills signed cornerback Josh Norman to a contract for $6 million. Speaking of players going to new teams, that’s something I’ve felt was the case with Emmanuel Sanders and the San Francisco 49ers.
Welcome to 2020, where we read between the social media leaves for everything. Over the weekend, Sanders changed his Instagram avatar from a picture of him wearing a Niners jersey:
To a giant “E.”
Sander’s most recent picture of his family he posted yesterday after the avatar change was captioned, “priority numero uno.” That doesn’t sound like somebody that is going to take a discount in free agency.
As silly as it sounds to go down the Instagram rabbit hole and come away with the conclusion that Sanders is moving on, why else would he change his picture? The team has been in talks with all of their unrestricted free agents. In Sanders’ case, he was likely offered a team-friendly deal, and the guarantee wasn’t enough.
I felt Sanders would move no for several reasons. For starters, he’s going to have a strong market. Please make no mistake about it. Sanders is too good of a player not to have the interest, despite his age. The next reason, from a 49ers point of view, is the depth in the draft. Don’t look at it like “a rookie receiver won’t be as good as Sanders.” Of course not. The talks likely shifted to, “can a receiver we take in the draft that will cost under $2 million annually (like Deebo Samuel’s contract) give us 80% of what Sanders did? It helps when you have Kyle Shanahan calling the plays.
With all that said, if this really is the end of the road for Sanders in scarlet and gold, prepare yourselves for a drop-off once again. Let’s say a scenario happened where one of the top receivers in the draft like Jerry Jeudy from Alabama fell. Jeudy is an incredible player. He doesn’t hold a candle to what Sanders will give you in 2020. That, and losing out on two draft picks make this tough to swallow. With that said, it was all worth it. John Lynch saw how well his team had been playing, and knew they needed a spark at wide receiver. They needed somebody who could produce, as well as someone that could lead. Sanders was the best of all worlds for the 49ers.
It’s speculation for now. We’ll find out in a little over a week if Sanders will indeed move on.