FOXBORO -- There was a chance, even after the Patriots told Mohamed Sanu they were releasing him, that they'd get something in return for the veteran wideout. Not the case. Sanu was officially released late Thursday afternoon. Informed of his release Wednesday, that transaction did not come down in time to make Wednesday's transaction wire. That gave the Patriots about 24 hours to see if they could land anything in a trade for the 31-year-old.
There were a variety of reasons for why Sanu's brief marriage to the Patriots failed: performance in camp, projected role, salary. But that doesn't mean he's not a usable NFL wideout.
If the Patriots didn't, for instance, have N'Keal Harry on the roster then Sanu might've made sense as a big-bodied contested-catch option. He could fill that purpose elsewhere, potentially.
One team that might've made sense for the Patriots as a trade partner was San Francisco. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan worked with Sanu in Atlanta and was reportedly interested in acquiring Sanu from the Falcons last season. The Patriots out-bid San Fran for Sanu's services, giving up a second-round pick in the process, and Shanahan settled for Emmanuel Sanders.
It worked out for Jimmy Garoppolo and his club. Sanders finished with 36 catches in 10 games for 502 yards and three scores en route to a Super Bowl appearance. Sanu got hurt early in his Patriots tenure and ended up with 26 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown.
Niners general manager John Lynch said on Thursday that the team still likes Sanu as a player.
“Excellent football player," Lynch told San Francisco radio station KNBR, "one that has history with our staff . . . I think when a good football player becomes available, we’re always interested and we’re always looking to see if they can help."
San Francisco will still have an opportunity to sign Sanu to a new contract as a free agent now that he's free of the $6.5 million base salary and cap hit that would've come with him in a trade. And by biding their time, they don't have to give up anything to get him.