Emmanuel Sanders

NFL rumors: Broncos likely to trade WR Emmanuel Sanders before deadline

NFL rumors: Broncos likely to trade WR Emmanuel Sanders before deadline

The Denver Broncos are 2-5 with the NFL trade deadline approaching, and the smart route for the AFC West team would be trading veterans for draft picks in an effort to rebuild the roster.

One veteran who should interest teams around the league is wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported Sunday that Sanders is "likely" to be traded before the deadline, which is set for Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. ET. 

Sanders is in the final year of his contract. He's eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season.

The 32-year-old wideout has tallied 30 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns through seven games for the Broncos this season. He is one of the top wide receivers who could be dealt at the trade deadline, and several contending teams, including the New England Patriots, would greatly benefit from adding a player of Sanders' caliber. The Patriots signed Sanders to an offer sheet in 2013, but the Pittsburgh Steelers matched it. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday the Broncos are expected to seek better than a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for Sanders if he's traded.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots vs. Jets preview>>>

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NFL rumors: Broncos' expected asking price for Emmanuel Sanders revealed

NFL rumors: Broncos' expected asking price for Emmanuel Sanders revealed

The NFL trade deadline is set for Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. ET, and the Denver Broncos have one of the top wide receivers who could be dealt.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday, citing sources, that the Broncos "are likely to be open to listening to offers for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders."

What is Denver's expected asking price for Sanders? A third-round pick or better, per Schefter:

Denver traded fellow veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas to the Texans last year for a 2019 fourth-round pick, and sources tell ESPN that the Broncos are expected to be seeking a higher form of compensation for Sanders, who is in the last year of his contract.

Schefter also listed several teams "expected to be in the wide receiver market," and the New England Patriots were among those clubs.

The Patriots definitely would benefit from adding a wide receiver before the trade deadline.

Veteran wideout Josh Gordon will miss Monday night's Week 7 game against the New York Jets because of a knee injury. Phillip Dorsett missed New England's Week 6 win with a hamstring injury, and he's questionable to play versus the Jets. Reigining Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman also has been banged up a bit this season, although he has not missed a game.

Making matters worse for New England is its lack of offensive production at tight end. And now, injuries also are a concern at the position. The Patriots already have ruled out tight ends Matt LaCosse (knee) and Ryan Izzo (concussion) for Monday's matchup in New York, leaving 38-year-old Benjamin Watson atop the tight end depth chart.

Sanders and Cincinnati Bengals star A.J. Green are two of the most popular wide receivers involved in trade rumors entering the deadline. Green has battled an ankle injury all season and has yet to play in 2019. Sanders, meanwhile, has played in all seven of Denver's games with 30 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns. He can play outside or in the slot, and we know Patriots head coach Bill Belichick values versatility quite a bit.

The Patriots must decide if adding a player of Sanders' caliber is worth the cost required to bring him to New England. The Patriots are 6-0, but there are genuine concerns about their depth at wide receiver. Taking a chance on Sanders, even at the cost of a valuable draft pick, does make sense because New England should do all it can to maximize what's left of quarterback Tom Brady's career.

Phil Perry: Why Broncos should make Sanders available>>>

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Patriots Point/Counterpoint: What's the biggest trade deadline need?

Patriots Point/Counterpoint: What's the biggest trade deadline need?

Every Friday during the NFL season, Tom E. Curran & Phil Perry will go head-to-head and offer their own takes on a Patriots or NFL-related question. This week, they debate the upcoming NFL Trade Deadline.

THE PATRIOTS' PRIMARY NEED AT THE TRADE DEADLINE IS...

A wide receiver with inside-outside, three-level ability who can run after the catch. So Antonio Brown? No.

Let's go with someone a smidge less self-destructive, narcissistic and a tad more dependable/predictable. Say, Emmanuel Sanders. Or Danny Amendola. Neither being in quite the same stratosphere as Brown — and Amendola not having the outside ability either — but someone like that. Why that kind of wideout? Or a wideout and not a tight end?

Because of the ripple effect the offense will realize. Someone who plays inside means the Patriots can rely a little less on Julian Edelman, whom they are going to grind down to sawdust at the rate they are throwing to him.

What about Phillip Dorsett? Not an inside guy. Definitely not a run-after-catch guy. What about N'Keal Harry? He's going to have a lot flying at him in the coming weeks. Keep it simple with him by not putting him in the interior maelstrom.

What about Jakobi Meyers? Don't hate the idea. Josh Gordon? Just doesn't get that interior separation that stubby-legged guys with great quickness get.

The Patriots knew they needed an interior guy. That's why they tried Cole Beasley and Adam Humphries in free agency. That's why they made the panic move to sign Brown. They get one more chance at the brass ring at the trade deadline. It's gotta be a wideout.

*****

I hear you, my friend. I do. But what if I told you the Patriots could get their interior receiving presence checked off their wish list AND fix another position entirely?

For me, their primary need at the deadline is a tight end. Someone who can catch. Someone who can make yards after the catch. Someone who puts defenses in a legitimate we-gotta-make-sure-we-got-this-guy-covered sort of bind on third downs. Say, Austin Hooper. Or maybe O.J. Howard, if you think he can be that guy. (I'm starting to wonder if he can be that guy; he has just 13 receptions this year and has been targeted just four more times than the immortal Cameron Brate.)

But Hooper makes a world of sense. He might not move mountains as a blocker, but that's why guys like Ryan Izzo and Eric Tomlinson are on the roster. Hooper could block against lighter fronts while serving as a true matchup weapon against linebackers or safeties. He leads all NFL tight ends in receptions and he's on pace for about 1,300 yards receiving.

Taking a crowbar to the Falcons and muscling him out of there might be an issue — maybe they'll decide to franchise him next year if they can't ink him to a long-term contract — but the idea of Hooper in this offense is intriguing. A pass-catching tight end (not named Ben Watson) would seemingly settle things down in the offensive huddle, make that side of the ball a little more unpredictable, and give Tom Brady another viable weapon in the passing game.

Check, check and check.

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