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Emmanuel Sanders, 49ers, Saints

Why Emmanuel Sanders could make sense for the Saints in free agency

Emmanuel Sanders is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the New Orleans Saints appear to be a logical landing spot. The 31-year-old wide receiver was traded from the Denver Broncos to the San Francisco 49ers this October.

In 10 games with the 49ers, the two-time Pro Bowler recorded 36 catches for 502 yards and three touchdowns. Alongside tight end George Kittle and rookie wideout Deebo Samuel, Sanders gave San Francisco a much-needed boost to their pass offense.

Regardless, there’s a chance that Sanders dons a new uniform in 2020 and if the New Orleans Saints were smart, they’d target the veteran receiver.

Now, the Saints already have arguably the best receiver in football in Michael Thomas. Thomas recorded over 1,700 yards and nine touchdowns this season — why would the Saints target a receiver?

Well, behind Thomas, New Orleans is left without a quality secondary option at wide receiver. Veteran tight end Jared Cook had a great season but in terms of actual receivers, the Saints are left with Ted Ginn who will be 35 years old next season.

Players like Tre’Quan Smith, Alvin Kamara, and Taysom Hill are all solid options in the passing game but after being knocked out by the Minnesota Viking in the Wild Card, it’s clear that the Saints could use an upgrade behind Thomas. Other than Thomas, Cook, and Kamara, no Saints player had more than two catches against the Vikings.

Enter: Emmanuel Sanders. At 5-foot-11 and 180-pounds, Sanders doesn’t possess the elite size of Thomas. Instead, Sanders, even in his thirties, is one of the shiftiest and quickest receivers in the league.

Sanders’ Pro Bowl days are likely behind him but as Drew Brees’ career likely enters its final leg, a quality receiver like Sanders could be exactly what the Hall of Fame quarterback needs.

It’s more of a testament to how good Michael Thomas is, but when Thomas has 33 more catches than anyone else in the NFL, it’s pretty clear that your team could use a better secondary option.

Sanders could very well opt to re-sign with the 49ers. After all, the veteran would likely be the top option behind Kittle and San Francisco offers the former Bronco with a strong chance to win a second Super Bowl ring.

Maybe the Saints pursue a wide receiver in the early rounds of the draft, maybe the team is okay with throwing the ball to Thomas every play — after all, it worked pretty well in 2019. Maybe the Saints hope a player like Tre’Quan Smith develops into a true No. 2 option.

However, if New Orleans were to land a player of Sanders’ caliber, you better believe opposing defensive coordinators will be sweating bullets.