On Wednesday morning, the New Orleans Saints released wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and LB Kwon Alexander to clear up cap space as the Saints are well over the cap. The NFL is expected to announce compensatory picks at some point during Wednesday. Over the Cap projects the San Francisco 49ers to be rewarded a fifth-round comp pick for losing Sanders. We’ll see if the team gets a pick for Kwon.
Alexander is expected to be healthy by the time training camp rolls around, but given his lengthy injury history expecting Fred Warner’s buddy to stay healthy is betting against history.
Sanders, at 34, will likely sign with a playoff contender. My money is on the Packers, but could he reunite with San Francisco. That’d be a Belichickian move to lose a player one year, gain a comp pick, and re-sign him the following season.
Releasing Sanders was one of the most difficult things to do for head coach Kyle Shanahan:
Emmanuel Sanders’ agent should just circulate this clip where one of the best offensive minds in the NFL describes what Sanders brings to the tablepic.twitter.com/MZifyoITiL— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 10, 2021
Since Sanders is a vested veteran, he’s eligible to sign with any team right away and doesn’t have to wait until the negotiation window opens on March 15.
Sanders continued to play at a high level this past season despite subpar QB play or Drew Brees not throwing the ball further than 17 yards. Sanders is still plenty fast and equally as valuable in the intermediate level of the field, where he can find the soft spots of zone coverages.
The 49ers could use a third wide receiver. It’s a deep draft class, but you could sign Sanders on a one-year deal and the odds of you getting the same type of value from a rookie is slim to none. We went over where the 49ers stand from a salary cap perspective on Wednesday morning. With $13 million carrying over, the 49ers' salary cap is closer to $195 million for this upcoming season.
If they want Sanders back, and he’s interested, a deal could get done for the veteran. We saw Sanders had an immediate impact on the offense when the 49ers acquired him midseason in 2019. Sanders had an even greater effect on Kendrick Bourne and Deebo Samuel. Sanders giving daily advice and showing Brandon Aiyuk the ropes would be enough for me to bring him back for a season.
A receiver core with Sanders, Aiyuk, Samuel, and George Kittle would be one of the best units in the NFL and make life on Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan easy. Would you sign Sanders for a one-year, $6 million deal? Or would the Niners be better suited to either save or allocate resources elsewhere?