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Free agency rumors: Emmanuel Sanders could be out in Denver, could Texas-native head home?

The Broncos are potentially ready to rid themselves of Emmanuel Sanders, could a return home be in order?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are apparently looking to clean house a little bit as both the contracts for wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are in question. Thomas’ contract has an easier out as both 2018 and 2019 can be bought back for about $4 million. Most people think he will restructure with the Broncos. Sanders’ deal is supposed to be through 2019 as well but if released, he’s going to cost about $5.4 million in dead money unless designated as a post-June 1st release. Still, our friends at Mile High are reporting he’s as “good as gone”.

It’s not a huge surprise that he might be on the outs. There was plenty of talks that Sanders was a bit outspoken and was a “locker room cancer”, mostly made 104.3’s Darren McKee. There was also a tweet by Altitude TV’s Vic Lombardi that a couple “strong personalities” in that locker room would be leaving this offseason. That strongly hinted to Emmanuel Sanders and Aqib Talib to me, but we shall see.”

Sanders is coming off a disappointing 2017 season where he totaled just 47 receptions for 555 yards and 2 touchdowns. Poor quarterback play is mostly to blame for this, but he also missed four games due to injury.”

That begs the question, should the Cowboys take a look at the Bellville, Texas native for a possible return to the Lone Star state? The Cowboys could use a quick receiver like Sanders to help out Dak Prescott.

There is one potential problem besides the fact he’s not quite a free agent yet. Sanders was recently caught up in a potential sexual misconduct case that alleges he was involved, but to what extent is still unknown as charges will not be filed. The NFL will likely investigate. If there is anything that comes of the sexual misconduct case, surely the Cowboys wouldn’t be interested.

As far as the player is concerned, Sanders has been a very productive receiver prior to a down year in 2017, but there is obviously some real quarterback questions in Denver. That likely contributed to his down year.

Sanders landed with the Broncos in 2014 and was made a starter at receiver, and proved to be a dangerous weapon for Peyton Manning. In 2014, Sanders had a breakout year starting 16 games, recording 101 receptions for 1,404 yards, and nine touchdowns. He had 24 catches of 20 yards or more with four catches of 40 yards or more while accounting for 69 first downs. As a result of his monster year, Sanders made his first Pro Bowl.

In 2015, Sanders recorded 76 catches for 1,135 yards, and six touchdowns. The Broncos reached Super Bowl 50 with help from Sanders’ big play abilities (18 catches of 25+ yards or more) and 51 first down receptions. Sanders helped Manning win his second Super Bowl with his six catches for 83 yards as the Broncos beat the Panthers 24-10. Following the 2015 season, Sanders signed a three-year extension worth $33 million with $20 million guaranteed. Emmanuel also received an injury guarantee of $6.9 million if on the roster in March of this year.

In the past two seasons, sans Manning, Sanders has still been productive, starting 28 of 31 potential games, recording 126 receptions, 1,587 yards, seven touchdowns, 25 catches of 25+ yards or more, and 50 first down receptions.

The Broncos will likely be looking to deal Sanders but it remains to be seen if anyone will bite. However, if they end up outright releasing him to save almost $6 million against the cap this season, he should have a list of suitors. The Cowboys have to get serious about their receiving corps problems and it seems they are looking for help in that department. They have questions of their own surrounding Dez Bryant’s contract. They also had problems between the quarterback and receivers last season.

The theme of the offseason is going to be making the offense more “Dak Prescott friendly” and a guy like Sanders could be an asset worth pursuing. He’s got the abilities to get separation quickly and make the most of his opportunities. If he becomes available, should the Cowboys try and pair Sanders with Dez Bryant, and other SMU product, Cole Beasley? It would certainly upgrade the passing offense that ranked 22nd in the NFL in 2017.