NFL

Drew Brees Gets Another Weapon as Saints Sign Emmanuel Sanders

The New Orleans Saints have added to an already-impressive offense with one of the NFL’s more underrated receivers. Veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders, who impressed during the San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl run last season, agreed to sign a two-year contract with the Saints. Sanders is expected to form one of the NFL’s premier receiving duos with All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas.

Here’s why the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees each should benefit from Emmanuel Sanders’ signing.

Emmanuel Sanders has quietly been one of the NFL’s more consistent receivers

For a two-time Pro Bowl receiver, Emmanuel Sanders never seems to get the attention he deserves. Sanders has recorded 500 receiving yards every season since 2012 and averages 13.1 yards per catch for his career. After starting his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sanders was at his most dangerous from 2014-16 in Denver when he earned both Pro Bowl nods and totaling 256 receptions for 3,571 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Emmanuel Sanders caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three scores in 10 games for the 49ers after a midseason trade last year. A former Super Bowl champion, Sanders added five catches for 71 yards in three playoff games. While Jimmy Garoppolo performed well last season, Sanders’ new quarterback, Drew Brees, is his best since Peyton Manning was healthy and throwing touchdowns for the 2014 Denver Broncos.

With Emmanuel Sanders, the Saints have a dangerous offense on paper

Veteran NFL receiver Emmanuel Sanders has made two Pro Bowls since entering the league in 2010.
Veteran NFL receiver Emmanuel Sanders has made two Pro Bowls since entering the league in 2010. I Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Emmanuel Sanders wasn’t so much a missing piece as he is an intriguing addition to an already fantastic offense. New Orleans’ offense stormed through the end of the regular season with ease, albeit mostly against teams well out of the playoff picture. Of the nine teams New Orleans played when Drew Brees returned from an injury in late-October, only two — the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans — finished with winning records.

Brees was 29-of-30 for four touchdowns against the reeling Colts and threw six touchdowns to one pick in two games against a Panthers team that fired head coach Ron Rivera midseason. The Saints’ offense shined in those games but was nowhere to be seen in a playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

In addition to Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas, the Saints still have three-time Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara and veteran tight end Jared Cook. New Orleans also has a talented offensive line and the versatile Taysom Hill as an all-purpose weapon. With an offense that deep, New Orleans could potentially threaten scoring records throughout the 2020 season.

Can Drew Brees take advantage of Emmanuel Sanders’ arrival?

By adding Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans has all of the necessary pieces on both sides of the ball to make a Super Bowl run. Other than playing in a division that now hosts Teddy Bridgewater and Tom Brady, the Saints’ biggest obstacle might be their franchise quarterback. Drew Brees is 41 and, although he was effective late in the year, has shown signs of regression at times the last two years.

Brees only threw for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the Vikings loss. When regression comes for an older quarterback, as shown with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in years past, it comes quick. New Orleans has to hope they can get one more full, elite year from Brees with Sanders now in the picture.