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Denver Broncos should extend Emmanuel Sanders this year

Today we focus in and make the case for Denver to get a jump on 2017 free agents and re-sign Emmanuel Sanders before his price rises.

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Earlier this off-season, Malik Jackson infamously claimed that Denver could have easily re-signed himself and Trevathan if they had approached them the previous season with a deal. On Wednesday, I covered whether or not the Denver Broncos should re-sign Brandon Marshall before next season.

Broncos Cap Situation

According to Over The Cap, Denver has around $8.2 million in cap space currently. That does not factor in Ronnie Hillman's new deal which is around $2 million. Add in around $2 million to sign our draft class and that leaves us close to our limit from a cap perspective since we ideally want some wiggle room heading into the season in case of injuries. NOTE: Thanks for the corrections from commenters on the Brandon Marshall post on the draft class' cap space.

For this exercise, I am going to cut Colquitt as he is the 4th highest paid punter in the league at a $4 million cap hit, which is wayyy too much for any punter, let alone a league average (or below) punter. This move nets us $3.25 in cap space. So, I will set a $3 million cap limit for any new contract extension.

Since we only have a $3 million limit we can realistically only extend one of the 3 key free agents I have identified above. Yesterday we looked at Brandon Marshall. Today, we will look at...

Emmanuel Sanders

The Case: Emmanuel Sanders has become one of my favorite players these last two years. He has brought a toughness and energy to the offense, and is clearly a guy that wants to be here and loves the Denver Broncos. He even mentioned that he wanted to retire a Bronco.

The stats are even better. Since arriving here, Sanders' numbers have been insane.

2014: 101 rec | 1404 yards | 9 TDs

2015: 76 rec | 1135 yards | 6 TDs (and this is with our joke of an offense!)

Plus, don't you want to see more of these?!

The Sanders/DT combo is something that sets our offense apart, in my opinion, and makes our receiving corp very hard to defend, and should begin to open things up for our young TEs and WRs that compliment our offensive version of Batman and Robin. Keeping this duo in tact would go a long way to helping whoever ends up being under center for Denver this year to succeed.

The Contract: This one gets a little harder to project since the free agent market for WRs this year was pretty sparse. Marvin Jones signed the largest APY deal at $8m but his production doesn't come close to Emmanuel's. The other WR duo I looked at was Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb as they are more of a 1a/1b combo like DT and Sanders. Cobb's was signed last year and he has put up similar numbers the past two years with last year being a down year for the Packers offense as well. We would likely up the APY from $10m to $11m for Sanders on an extension. Here's a look at Cobb's deal.

I do not like the ballooned figure at the end of the contract and the amount of signing bonus prorated throughout the contract, but this structure could be replicated with some modifications. Sanders is already on the books for $6.6m this year which actually gives us some room to add $2-3m and make this the first year of his extension. That would put his cap hit around $9m for this year which wouldn't cause his later years of the contract to balloon quite as bad as Cobb's.

Bottom line

This would be the most expensive extension of the 3 in this series, but man would it be nice to keep Emmanuel around for another couple of years.

Plus, catching the market while there is a lull with wide receiver contracts could be a good thing. Who knows what team is going to throw Olivier Vernon money out at the beginning of free agency and reset the entire market, making Emmanuel impossible to sign.

Look for the third installment tomorrow as I make a case for Darian Stewart.