Report: Emmanuel Sanders Traded to 49ers from Broncos for 3rd-, 4th-Round Picks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2019

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 15: Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after scoring a two-point conversion during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Empower Field at Mile High on September 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos have traded veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and a 2020 fifth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Broncos will receive a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick in 2020.

Earlier Tuesday, the New England Patriots acquired receiver Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick, per Schefter. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported the 49ers "were very much in on Sanu" and speculated San Francisco might set its sights on Sanders instead.

With the Oct. 29 deadline rapidly approaching, Schefter reported Oct. 20 the Broncos were "likely to be open" to hearing offers for Sanders.

At 2-5, Denver's playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, and Sanders is in the final year of his contract. The situation was ripe for the Broncos to cash in on his trade value. The team did the same thing with Demaryius Thomas, flipping the four-time Pro Bowler for a 2019 fourth-round pick last season.

Sanders entered 2019 with a level of uncertainty. He tore his Achilles last December, an injury that can have long-term effects on an athlete.

Sanders' performance hasn't dropped much from 2018, though. He has caught 30 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns through seven games and ranks 22nd in DYAR among wideouts with at least 24 targets, per Football Outsiders.

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Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey made the case for Sanders as an attractive trade target: "His production has been down a little bit due to the situation he’s in, but Sanders is very capable of being a game-changer as a member of a contending team's passing attack. Those guys hold plenty of value in today's NFL."

The Broncos aren't rebuilding. They acquired Joe Flacco in the offseason in the hope he'd help put them over the top in the quest for a Super Bowl title.

Having said that, Denver was smart to be a seller at the deadline, especially when it came to a player in the last year of his contract.

Wide receiver was a clear need for San Francisco heading into the second half of the year.

Midseason moves aren't always guaranteed to deliver. The Philadelphia Eagles sent a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Golden Tate a season ago, and he generally underwhelmed (30 receptions for 278 yards and a touchdown) with the Eagles.

But Sanders continues to play at a high level. He should be an excellent secondary target for the 49ers alongside tight end George Kittle. Sanders represents an upgrade over Marquise Goodwin and Deebo Samuel in that regard.

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