Emmanuel Sanders knows a thing or two about good quarterback play. The veteran wide receiver earned his stripes in the NFL catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and in 2014 decided to sign with the Denver Broncos in free agency, joining forces with quarterback Peyton Manning. That experience with Manning was one of the more fruitful periods of Sanders' career, topping the thousand-yard receiving benchmark for the first time. Now, Sanders finds himself in New Orleans set to catch passes for another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees. While appearing on the NFL Network's Total Access on Thursday evening, Sanders compared this opportunity with Brees and the Saints to a similar free-agent move he made with Denver way back in 2014.
"Let me give you a little narrative," Sanders said, as transcribed by NFL.com. "Drew Brees drops back, he looks to the right, he has Alvin Kamara. He looks to the left, he has Emmanuel Sanders. He looks to the right, he has Michael Thomas. Oh, he looks down the middle, there's Jared Cook. Oh my god, who's gonna score? You look to the right and to the sideline, Sean Payton is calling the plays. I mean, who wouldn't want to be in that situation?
"I remember 2014 when I had the opportunity to play with Peyton Manning and be in a pass-happy offense. It was one of my best years statistically. You want to talk about going to practice knowing you're gonna catch 10-12 balls. Going into games, knowing that you have the opportunity to catch 10 passes. Like I said in '14, that's wide receiver heaven. To be back in the situation with another Hall of Fame quarterback and trying to do something special and win a Super Bowl, I'm all in. Truthfully, I'm blessed to be in this position that I'm in right now."
That 2014 season was Sanders' best statistical year of his career, notching career-bests in receptions (101), receiving yards (1,404) and receiving touchdowns (9). Even as he enters the 2020 season at 33 years old, Sanders is still around the peak of his powers, totaling 36 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games played for the San Francisco 49ers following the deadline trade from the Broncos. In the playoffs, Sanders was also just a few steps away (on an overthrown pass) from catching the go-ahead, possibly game-winning touchdowns in Super Bowl LIV. To simply state it: Sanders can still ball. With New Orleans' pass-happy offense, Sanders will see plenty of opportunities to prove just that.
Saints starters (Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater) in 2019 combined for 574 pass attempts throughout the regular season, which ranked as the eighth-most in the entire NFL. With Drew Brees healthy, that number and ranking in the league quite possibly could go up in 2020. Thanks to their plethora of weapons -- including Michael Thomas -- Sanders receiver won't have opposing secondaries keying on him specifically, which could result in some big numbers as he enters his eleventh season in the league.