The contracts and stats of the wide receivers for Denver show who’s in trouble.

To me, each of the players listed below must show they’re worth new contracts and/or staying for next season. Some are beloved; however, as they say, time stands still for no one and that hits home for our top two casualties.

Lets look at the contracts for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

DT is the bedrock of the offense, there’s no question. He’s grown into a mature leader that has taught, inspired and supported his teammates. I once saw him instructing the WRs and TEs during a game and consoling a player at another.

With that said, he’s lost a step from injuries and age. When you’ve played for years with quarterbacks who get you killed, the hits pile up. He’s been a workhouse who hasn’t missed a game in 111 starts even when hobbled.

As you can see below, if DT was cut before 1 June 2019, the cap savings is really huge. Also notice that right now, he’s the 4th highest paid WR in the league. Putting emotion aside, is he worth 17 million?

My answer is sadly, no. With that said, if he can stay healthy all season, put up some good numbers, he’d be worth keeping if he restructured his contract. He’s going to need Case Keenum to have the arm talent to help him out (which is very debatable). Keenum’s best asset is getting rid of the ball quickly, but that puts the onus on the receiver to get Yards After Catch. As we see below, his numbers have been steadily dropping. What’s most notable is looking at his YAC. I’d say the weaker the QB arm, the worse he did. Some could he was double-covered; however, that’s been happening since 2013. Right now, his career depends on health and the arm of his QB. His catch rate last season was 59%.

2010 10 2 22 39 283 12.9 28.3 31 2 15 1 0 143
2011 11 5 32 70 551 17.2 50.1 47 4 24 0 0 128
2012 16 16 94 141 1434 15.3 89.6 71 10 60 3 3 561
2013 16 16 92 142 1430 15.5 89.4 78 14 66 1 0 718
2014 16 16 111 184 1619 14.6 101.2 86 11 69 0 0 680
2015 16 16 105 177 1304 12.4 81.5 72 6 63 2 2 498
2016 16 16 90 144 1083 12.0 67.7 55 5 50 2 2 336
2017 16 16 83 140 949 11.4 59.3 40 5 53 1 1 295
RECEIVING GP GS REC TGT YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 1ST FUM FUML YAC
Career 117 103 629 576 8653 13.8 74.0 86 57 400 2230

Emmanuel Sanders is in the same boat as DT, except he’s not a leader. A trusted source whispered that Denver wanted to trade him, but no offers came in because the price was too high. As you can see, he’s the 8th highest paid and Denver would have a big cap savings if released next year.

No matter how he plays, I don’t see him restructuring because Denver won’t be interested. Not to mention, if you read the low ankle article, he could be in a position that the ligament is now at risk for chronic instability.

Like Thomas, Sanders’ YAC has gone into the toilet and he, too needs Keenum’s arm (hence him sticking to him like glue). I doubt this happens and I will say I don’t see him starting all the games. His catch rate last season was 51%.

2010 PIT 13 1 28 50 376 13.4 28.9 35 2 18 0 0 84
2011 PIT 11 0 22 43 288 13.1 26.2 32 2 17 0 0 153
2012 PIT 16 7 44 74 626 14.2 39.1 37 1 31 2 2 219
2013 PIT 16 10 67 112 740 11.0 46.3 55 6 37 1 0 308
2014 DEN 16 16 101 141 1404 13.9 87.8 48 9 69 1 0 392
2015 DEN 15 15 76 137 1135 14.9 75.7 75 6 51 1 1 377
2016 DEN 16 16 79 137 1032 13.1 64.5 64 5 50 1 0 259
2017 DEN 12 11 47 92 555 11.8 46.3 38 2 30 0 0 165
RECEIVING TEAM GP GS REC TGT YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 1ST FUM FUML YAC

Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton were brought in for a reason. Both are said to be good leaders and along with Isaiah McKenzie and any drafted players next season, should make Sanders unneeded.

Jordan Taylor has no dead money and 630,000 of cap savings if he’s cut. After two hip surgeries, being 6’5” and missing all off-season, the question is, can he return as a bargain? The other issue that must be asked is, what kind of chemistry does he have with QB1 or QB2 that would make him valuable? I believe he’s on the bubble. Most likely, Vance Joseph will keep five wide receivers. His health and how the next two players perform will determine his fate.

He could go back to the Practice Squad; however, it’s doubtful he’d make it past waivers, so he makes the 53 or he’s gone.

Maybe because it was later revealed he was hurt, but yikes. These aren’t good numbers, plus only starting two games when the two guys ahead of him were allowed to walk isn’t a great sign he remains in Denver. However, his 65% catch rate last season also begs the question: why wasn’t he played more?

2016 DEN 16 0 16 25 209 13.1 13.1 35 2 10 1 1 77
2017 DEN 10 2 13 20 142 10.9 14.2 30 0 5 0 0 45
RECEIVING TEAM GP GS REC TGT YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 1ST FUM FUML YAC
Career 26 2 29 351 12.1 13.5 35 2 15

Isaiah McKenzie as a drafted player from 2017, gives him some wiggle room. During OTA’s and mini-camp, reports are he improved from last season, that although he was mostly with the two’s, he was making connections. If you’re in the small minority as me, this matters because I believe Denver wants Paxton Lynch to be the future and bringing up a young receiving corps is part of the plan.

No surprise his catch rate was an abysmal 31%. The good news is, he couldn’t possibly get worse. I think he stays, we need the depth and rookies often struggle at WR. McCoy’s playbook was complicated, which makes it tough to remember the play, run the route correctly and catch.

2017 11 0 4 13 29 7.3 2.6 14 0 2 0 0 11
RECEIVING GP GS REC TGT YDS AVG YDS/G LNG TD 1ST FUM FUML YAC
Career 11 0 4 29 7.3 2.6 14 0 2

Who’s on the fence and slipping is Carlos Henderson. When Vance Joseph, Mr Best Friend to the players, calls you out, you’re in trouble. Unfortunately for him, injuries both off seasons are making it tough for him to show what he has. He must show some promise during training camp or else Denver may need to eat a bunch of dead money. $1.25M of it. Releasing him may save Cap space, but they’re already carrying 2.25 dead cap on three players, tough to see them eating all that on one guy. Who knows, maybe a coach who saw him play in college, will give him a shot elsewhere and a trade can be worked out.

Personally, I’m not sure about having three slots (Henderson, Hamilton and him). We need another wide out with size. Which is why the battle for WR5 is between he and Taylor. Maybe next season we draft a big strapping dude on day two. However, without a trade, all we can hope is he comes back during TC like a stallion.

I’m including native Coloradan 6’1″ Kenny Bell even though we didn’t draft him (like Taylor) or have seen him play in Denver because he is in the same group as Henderson and Taylor: injuries will determine if he has a shot. He was drafted in the 5th round by the Buccaneers and many thought he oozed talent.

One item to note is he is still eligible for the practice squad. Denver needs his height. If he can get and stay healthy during TC, I believe he’s kept on the PS. That’s a HUGE IF. His career has been sidelined in Tampa and Baltimore because of a hamstring and it seems the issue is still there, what a shame.

The rest of the receivers on the Broncos’ 90 man roster are on one year contracts like Bell and haven’t seen any playing time. I firmly believe John Elway needs to bring in another wide receiver during Training Camp. We truly don’t have a sure thing at wide out because of age, injury or inexperience. By releasing a couple WR’s, the money/cap space would be there. In the meantime, I’m hoping they all ball out and it becomes a moot issue.

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