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Emmanuel Sanders could be the Broncos wide receiver to leave in 2018

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After a down year, the Denver Broncos could be ready to move on from Emmanuel Sanders

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NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the Denver Broncos had down years in 2017. A 5-11 season will do that. For Emmanuel Sanders, the season included injury concerns and locker room concerns. Much like Demaryius Thomas, the business side of the game could be the piece that forces Sanders exit in 2018.

When Sanders joined the Broncos in 2014 he had an immediate impact, created an incredible WR duo with Thomas, and was an instant fan favorite. How many fans on MHR used the #FollowMeE moniker on Twitter in hopes of a follow back? But after a steady decline in production, the chopping block looms large for Sanders.

Sanders production dropped way off in 2017. For the first time as a Bronco his targets dropped below 100 (92), and his receptions (55) were by far the lowest in orange and blue. His catch percentage (51.1%) was also the lowest in his career. While he certainly doesn’t deserve all the blame, it shows his impact on the field diminishing.

Unfortunately, this probably marks the end of Sanders’ run with the Broncos. Injuries held Sanders out of 5 games, and quarterback play limited everyone’s production, but business is business. The Broncos are poised to make big moves in free agency, which indicates that one of the big name wideouts is out. My money is on Sanders.

Emmanuel Sanders 2017 Pro Football Focus Grade

Among eligible receivers, Sanders ranked 64th with a score of 70.7. Even with a down season he fell in the ‘average’ category on PFF’s scale.

Emmanuel Sanders Contract Outlook

The Broncos would owe Sanders over $18 million over the next two seasons. That is a big number considering the moves the Broncos may be looking to make in the free agent market. His status with the team could be dependent upon what Denver does at the quarterback position.

2018 Status

The uncertainty continues at the WR position. Everything that happens in the offseason will be predicated on what John Elway does at the quarterback position. In my opinion, Sanders will be playing for someone else in 2018. It is never fun when a fan favorite finds himself on the outside looking in, but the Denver Broncos will be looking to make big moves on the offense, and Sanders is probably not a part of the long term plans anymore.