After the release of OT La’el Collins in mid-March, the Cowboys saved ten million dollars in cap space due to pre-June 1st cuts. The release of Collins officially put the cap space over $23.3 million, leaving the Cowboys enough space to sign a quality free agent to possibly make a difference on defense or offense. Like Stephen Jones said, “The Cowboys aren’t done in free agency.” One free agent that comes to mind is the veteran receiver, two-time pro bowler, and Super Bowl 50 Champion, Emmanuel Sanders.
Who Is Emmanuel Sanders?
HT- 5-10, WT- 180 lbs
College – SMU
Drafted- 2010, third round (82nd overall pick)
Sanders was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers who had future Hall of Famer Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El, and Arnaz Battle. They also drafted Antonio Brown in the seventh round making that receiving core pretty deep. However, Sanders was able to make a solid impact in his rookie season with 28 receptions, 376 receiving yards, and was a primary returner with 688 yards. Sander’s role as a receiver in Pittsburgh continued to progress in the 2014 off-season. He was a free agent who was sought after by quite a few teams after the Steelers didn’t extend an offer to him.
In mid-March, Sanders moved on from Pittsburgh and signed a three-year, $15 million contract with six million dollars guaranteed with the Denver Broncos. Sanders’s best years of football came in Denver. His first year in Denver, he had a career-high in receiving yards and touchdowns racking up 101 receptions, 1,404 yards, and nine touchdowns. The next season, the receiving pair of the late Demaryius Thomas, Sanders, and Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning at the helm in Denver, would go to the Super Bowl and win it. Sanders would be the lead receiver in receiving with 86.
Sanders stayed with Denver for three and a half seasons and continued to be a very solid contributor. However, he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers where he stayed for the rest of the 2019 season. In the 2020 offseason, he signed with the New Orlean Saints on a two-year, $16 million deal. That year, in week five, Sanders had a career-high game against the Los Angeles Chargers racking up 12 receptions for 122 yards. That year he had 61 receptions for 726 yards and five touchdowns, however, that off-season he was released by the Saints.
The next day, Sanders signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills where he made the best out of it. Sanders was officially the elder statesman on this young Bills team. He helped lead this team to the 2021-22 AFC Divisional against the Kansas City Chiefs where they lost in overtime 42-36. In 2021, Sanders had 42 receptions, 626 yards, and four touchdowns. Sanders in the playoffs recorded only three receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.
This week at OTAs we saw that Micheal Gallup was doing some rehab training with the resistance cords. It is great to see that he’s on the right path in the recovery process. However, that does not mean the Cowboys shouldn’t look at adding a receiver.
When it comes to an ACL injury, yes modern medicine and the proper rehab have sped the recovery process. However, that doesn’t mean jumping the gun and placing Gallup out there too early. Instead, bring in a guy like Sanders who has shown that he can still play at a high level in his mid-thirties. He can play outside, some slot and if the Cowboys want to relieve CeeDee Lamb, give Sanders punt return duties. Sanders has experience as a punt returner. His versatility could bring good value and roster depth to this team.
When it comes to this receiving core, they are rather young and inexperienced. They have no true starter outside of CeeDee Lamb, James Washington, and Michael Gallup. Acquiring a veteran receiver of Sander’s caliber would be beneficial. At 35 years old, Sanders remains to be a solid contributor as a receiver averaging over 500 receiving yards a year since 2011.
Secondly, having a receiver with experience could help with this young receiving core. Sanders could be that player/coach role for this receiving core. Especially for receivers such as this year’s third-round pick Jalen Tolbert and last year’s fifth-round pick Simi Fehoko. Having a vet like Sanders who has experience in the slot and as an outside receiver, he’s a guy that they can work with to improve.
Additionally, Sanders has been to a Super Bowl, won, and was the leading receiver in that game with six receptions and 86 receiving yards. Sanders brings experience, consistency, and leadership that is not easy to duplicate. Maybe it is a long shot, but maybe Sanders could be a piece that Dallas needs to get over the hump in the playoffs.
Should the Cowboys try to sign Emmanuel Sanders this offseason? Comment below and join the discussion!
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