Approximately 80 percent of Sanders' $8.25 million salary for the 2018 season is already guaranteed, Mike Klis of 9 News Denver reports.
There was some thought after the past season that Sanders may have taken his last snaps in Denver with the Broncos eager to clear up cap space, but the team found room to keep the wideout around after shedding Aqib Talib's contract in a trade with the Rams. Now that he's expected to be back in the fold for 2018, Sanders will look to prove to the Broncos that he's still an ideal complement to No. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas after an ankle injury cost Sanders four games and limited him in many others during the 2017 campaign. In addition to better health, Sanders could see his production bounce back to some extent thanks to the offseason pickup of Case Keenum, who should amount to an upgrade over the three quarterbacks (Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler) that started games for Denver a season ago.
With the Broncos eager to open up cap space to aid their pursuit of one of the top quarterbacks on the market this offseason, Sanders and fellow wideout Demaryius Thomas have been mentioned as candidates for trade or release in order to free up money. Elway's comments suggest the Broncos aren't leaning in that direction, however, indicating that the team may prefer to cut a high-priced veteran or two on defense in order to improve their cap situation. Sanders, who is said to be nearly back to full health following months of rehab from a significant right ankle sprain that nagged him in 2017, should thus retain a starting role during the upcoming season, though like Thomas, his outlook will remain foggy until the Broncos' plans at quarterback become clearer. None of the three signal callers who started games in 2017 -- Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian (shoulder) and Brock Osweiler -- are expected to open the 2018 campaign atop the depth chart.
Sanders (ankle) has resumed running and is nearing a full recovery, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. "It's going well, my ankle is recovering," Sanders said. "Right now, I feel like I'm 95 percent."
Sanders sustained a "major" sprained ankle and tibia contusion in Week 5 against the Giants and his recovery has been complicated by swelling, a limited range of motion and diminished strength, according to the doctor in charge of his rehabilitation. However, barring any setbacks, it sounds like he could be recovered in time for OTAs in late April or early May.
Sanders caught 47 of 94 passes for 555 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.
A bum ankle suffered in Week 5 limited Sanders to 12 games in 2017, and his general effectiveness when he was playing. Sanders, when healthy, has been arguably Denver's most dangerous target over the past two or three seasons and his hobbling 137-yard effort against the Patriots in Week 10 is a testament to his toughness. Sanders, like many of the Broncos' veterans, will be the subject of speculation this offseason, but his quality play when healthy and the fact that the team would only save $5.6 million by cutting him and lose $5.4 million makes it unlikely that the team can find somebody better for the money. Sanders, like every skill position player in Denver, will see his value spike or continue downward depending on whether the Broncos find an answer at quarterback in free agency and/or with the No. 5 pick in the draft.
The same applies to Cody Latimer (thigh), and as a result Bennie Fowler, Jordan Taylor and Isaiah McKenzie are all candidates to see added Week 17 work behind Denver's top wideout, Demaryius Thomas.
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