Next up on our free agency roundup: veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Last season, Sanders signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Buffalo Bills one day before his 34th birthday. Despite his relatively advanced age, Sanders put together a pretty impressive start to the season.
Through 14 games played, 13 of which he started, Sanders hauled in 42 receptions for 626 yards and four touchdowns. Although generally lower than his numbers from the previous season in New Orleans, these stats were pretty good. Particularly given the sizeable wide receiver corps in Buffalo in 2021.
Sanders’ performance was impressive in the early games. However, his performance weakened and grew less consistent over the latter part of the season. All four of his scores came in only two games early in the season. With two TD’s each in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team and Week 5 at the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sanders also did not have another game with more than 50 receiving yards after the Week 9 embarrassment in Jacksonville to the Jaguars.
Sanders was inactive for 3 of the 4 remaining games of the season. And when it came to the playoffs, he wasn’t particularly effective. He did catch a touchdown pass during the beatdown of the New England Patriots, but that was one of only three catches he managed in the entire postseason.
The Bills could easily find a much younger and cheaper option in the draft or free agency. Some of this year’s top prospects, like Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, and Jahan Dotson, are on the Bills’ radar this offseason and have given very high praise to Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.
I am not taking away anything from Emmanuel Sanders. He has had a great career and was a solid option for Josh Allen all season. But at 35 years old at the start of the 2022 season, even Sanders himself indicated that he could be calling it quits soon.
So with all of this in mind, and with the limited cap space Brandon Beane has to spend, it would be in the Bills’ best interests to let him walk.
Emmanuel Sanders Stay or Go: Go
Projection: Retires or signs one year deal with another wide receiver-needy team