clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Broncos Country lucky to keep Sanders; No. 10 very happy to stay

Though Emmanuel Sanders is No. 2 on the depth chart for wide receivers, he's No. 1 in the hearts of many in Broncos Country. That - plus a $33 million contract extension and a chance to chase another championship - kept No. 10 in Denver.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

In all the hype before Week 1 and the following excitement over the dramatic win, the necessary elation over extending Emmanuel Sanders - the Broncos latest coup in keeping a superstar on the roster - got lost in the shuffle.

But the wide-smiling wide-out got a chance Friday after the big win to thank the Broncos and Broncos Country for being everything he's wanted in his NFL home.

"I remember playing for the Steelers and walking into Foot Locker and being tired of not seeing my jersey up there," Sanders said. "The moment I come here, I go for 1,400 yards and I see fans with my jersey on."

Sanders' 1,404 yards in 2014 was more than his most productive two years in Pittsburgh combined. And in just his first two years with Denver, Sanders racked up more than 2,500 yards compared to 2,000 and change in four years with the Steelers.

Named No. 65 of Pro Football Focus' top 101 players right now, Sanders was the only Broncos' offensive player to make that list.

"It just shows me that all my hard work paid off," Sanders said, noting injuries in Pittsburgh that sidelined him. "Then coming out here, this city just embraced me with so much love. I don't take that for granted. I understand and that's why I say all the time that I love the city of Denver. It's been very good to me and my family. I'm always going to put my heart on the line for this city."

As the Broncos' No. 2 wide-out whose numbers the past two seasons in Denver have reflected No. 1 production for many NFL teams, the seventh-year veteran knows that roster rankings are just for listings.

On the field, players are expected to do whatever it takes to help the team win. And Sanders has been doing that ever since he came to the Mile High City two years ago.

Known for staying after practices just to catch more balls on the JUGS Machine, Sanders bought one for his backyard last year so he could get as much practice as possible.

"At my position, the most important thing is catching a football, so why wouldn't I work on that?" Sanders told Associated Press last season. "In the offseason, I would probably catch 100 to 200 balls a day. Catch them all different type of ways. Sometimes I'd wake up in the morning I'd have my wife shoot me a couple balls. I just like catching passes."

And now Sanders will be catching passes in Denver for several more years -€” something that makes the wide receiver very happy.

Well aware that teammate Demaryius Thomas has a hefty paycheck in the $15 million range, Sanders was just looking for a contract from the Broncos that acknowledged his "laying it on the line" contributions.

And the new contract is definitely evidence the Broncos do.

"When my agent reached out to me that the Broncos were interested in an extension, I was excited about that, but I knew that we do have a receiver in Demaryius Thomas ... I knew that it was going to be tough," he said.

Spurred in part by Tavon Austin's recent deal averaging $10.5 million/year, the Broncos knew they needed to come in above that. They settled on three years for $33 million.

That was the right number.

"It was a great number, and I'm excited to be here," Sanders said.

The former Steeler was about to start this regular season with a $5.6 million salary, the final year on a three-year, $15 million contract signed in March 2014.

The new deal includes a sweet $10.75 million signing bonus, making the total contract $38.6 million over four years.

Mike Klis reported Sunday that the contract breaks down like this:

  • 2016: $10.75 million signing bonus along with a $2.5 million salary to total $13.25 million -€” all fully guaranteed.
  • 2017: $6.75 million salary that is fully guaranteed, plus a $100,000 working bonus for a total of $6.85 million.
  • Between this season and next, that's $20.1 million guaranteed, which is nearly $15 million more than the $5.6 million he would have made this season.
  • 2018: $8.25 million salary with $6.9 million guaranteed against injury until five days after free agency opens in March 2018, at which point it becomes fully guaranteed.
  • 2019: $10.25 million salary - not guaranteed.

Sanders told the media last week that he knew he could have played out his contract this year with the Broncos and then become a free agent and likely made more money at another team.

I could've possibly [gone] to another team that's pass happy, but I'm all about winning championships, and I think we've got the formula.  -Emmanuel Sanders

But he wanted to stay in Denver - for the fans and for the team.

"I could've possibly went to another team that's pass happy, but I'm all about winning championships, and I think that we've got the formula," Sanders said. "We've got a nucleus of guys here and Elway can contest to this that if we can keep these guys around, we'll have an opportunity every single year to make that run and win another championship and that's what it's about."

And Sanders believes that's always worth a "hometown discount."

"At the end of the day, we're all rocking hardware on our fingers right now and we're chasing to get two or maybe three or four, so that's what it's about," Sanders added.

The fact that the Broncos offense is being led by a rather untested quarterback is that much more reason for Sanders to keep bringing his A-game every week.

"Just get as open as you can and catch every single pass and allow him to grow confidence in us," the Bellville, Texas, native said. "Knowing that if you throw it up, that we can go up and get the deep ball, or if you throw it up and it's a bad ball, we'll bat it done."

This offense has an opportunity not just to be good, but to be special. I think this offense has the opportunity to be really special.  -Emmanuel Sanders

The wide receiver is very encouraged so far about the Broncos' offense -€” especially after pulling through against the Panthers in spite of many early mistakes.

"We turned the football over two or three times last night. The defense allowed them to go 60 percent on third down, and we still were able to come out and win that ball game," Sanders said, adding that the Broncos are easily a contender if they can eliminate the mistakes. "This offense has the opportunity to be special and very unique."

With exceptional players like Sanders, there's no doubt it can be in the hunt.

"Kubiak said it, this offensive line has an opportunity to not be good, but it has an opportunity to be special," Sanders said. "That's what it's about. If C.J. is running the ball and me and Demaryius and ‘Virg' and Cody and the whole wide receiving corps can make our plays, I think this offense has the opportunity to be really good."

And with Sanders on that roster, we know that opportunity just got a little more realistic.

Horse Tracks - Broncos news

For Broncos’ defense, pressure and punishment is the standard – The Denver Post
For the Broncos' defense, there's pride in punishment. There's a belief that living on the edge and straddling the line of dirty and dominant is the most effective and truest way to the top.

Five things you should know from the Broncos' Friday work
Trevor Siemian and the offensive line were among the players who drew praise from Gary Kubiak as the Broncos reviewed the game footage Friday.

Nearly everyone agrees that hands-to-face call against Chris Harris was a mistake | Broncos Wire
The Carolina Panthers were able to attempt a late-game field goal thanks to a penalty that shouldn't have been called against Chris Harris.

Demaryius Thomas of Denver Broncos may miss time with hip injury
Demaryius Thomas is getting a second opinion of an MRI he underwent for a hip injury, and there is concern that the Broncos wide receiver could miss some time.

Remember last NFL opening weekend without Peyton Manning or Tom Brady?
The last NFL opening weekend without Peyton Manning or Tom Brady was in 1997. Remember what you were doing? Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold sure does.

Credit union with ties to military ends deal with Broncos LB after he kneels during anthem
Federal credit union says it will no longer use Brandon Marshall as an ambassador.

Kiszla: Brandon Marshall should stop kneeling during anthem and stand up for what he believes
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took a knee during the national anthem. I respect his protest. I admire his courage. I believe he loves the United States of America. I hear his message. I applaud it.

Horse Tracks - AFC West news

Chiefs' comeback proves they could be legitimate contenders - Kansas City Chiefs Blog- ESPN
The Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to beat the San Diego Chargers.

Oakland Raiders go for two-point conversion late, beat Saints - Oakland Raiders Blog- ESPN
The Raiders had a chance to tie the Saints with less than a minute to play but instead went for two -- and converted for the 35-34 win.

Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks interlock arms during national anthem
The Chiefs and Seahawks interlocked arms at their games during the national anthem, while Chiefs CB Marcus Peters raised his fist and other teams held the edges of the flags.

Keenan Allen of San Diego Chargers carted off with knee injury
Keenan Allen injured his right knee in the first half against the Chiefs and was carted off. The Chargers announced the receiver will not return.

Horse Tracks - NFL news

Jimmy Garoppolo leads Patriots to upset over Cardinals -
Filling the shoes of a football legend isn't easy, but Jimmy Garoppolo handled his first start for the Patriots with the requisite composure and stability in New England's Sunday night win.

Thirty-nine things we learned from Week 1 -
On the surface, the opening Sunday of the 2016 NFL season delivered a string of fantastic finishes. But one major theme emerged through the chaos: 2015 held serve. Here's what else we learned Sunday.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' 98-yard touchdown pass longest in team history
Drew Brees' 98-yard TD pass to Brandin Cooks in the third quarter of Sunday's 35-34 loss to the Oakland Raiders was the longest offensive play in the 50-year history of the New Orleans Saints.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scores first touchdown
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott scored his first career touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, diving into the end zone against the New York Giants.

Jay Cutler and Kevin White's critical mishap costs Bears - Chicago Bears Blog- ESPN
Kevin White and Jay Cutler miscommunicated on a third-quarter interception -- the turning point that allowed the Texans to rally for a 23-14 victory.

Bears vs. Texans - Game Recap - September 11, 2016 - ESPN
The huge offseason investment the Houston Texans made in Brock Osweiler paid immediate dividends in the season opener. Osweiler threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in his debut to lead the Texans to a 23-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Rodgers throws TD with defender draped on his back - ESPN Video
Not even a defender with a grasp on Aaron Rodgers can stop him from making this 29-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams.

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks find a way to win ugly vs. Dolphins - Seattle Seahawks Blog- ESPN
The Seattle Seahawks will take the victory, but they know they have plenty of work to do.

Stafford outduels Luck in Lions' late win over Colts -
Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck went score for score in a quarterback duel in Indianapolis, but the Lions star had the last laugh in a 39-35 victory.

Dez Bryant can't catch a break in end zone -
Football season doesn't begin until Dez Bryant has a highlight reel catch taken away by the bad people. In a related story, football season has begun after a Bryant catch was reversed vs. the Giants.

Robert Griffin III suffers sprained shoulder -
Robert Griffin III suffered a sprained shoulder in the Browns' 29-10 loss to the Eagles on Sunday, but he'll be good to go for Week 2.