Before John Elway headed out to the golf course to take advantage of a sunny Sunday in the Rocky Mountains, the Denver Broncos general manager made yet another splash in free agency by signing wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a three-year, $15 million contract. The Broncos have been the league’s most successful suitors so far, committing nearly $128 million to five players, including three thumpers who will reinforce a defense that was exposed in the Super Bowl: safety T.J. Ward, cornerback Aqib Talib, pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, and two receivers in Bubba Caldwell and Sanders.
“They definitely did a great job from a free-agent perspective,” Sanders said. “When I saw them bring in DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward, I was like, ‘They’re stacking up on defense.’ I knew with Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas and Wes Welker and (Bubba) Caldwell, I was like, ‘I would fit with these guys really well.’ When my agent, Steve Weinberg, got the call, we were definitely fist-bumping. We were hoping that the numbers matched, and they matched.’’
A former Pittsburgh Steelers No. 2 receiver, Sanders can play both the slot and the outside in place of Eric Decker, who left Denver for the New York Jets.
This latest move left several teams fuming, according to NFL.com, which reported that Weinberg shopped his client around after agreeing to a deal in principle with the Kansas City Chiefs. A call from the Associated Press to Weinberg went straight to voice mail Sunday, and that mailbox was full.
Elway said this sort of thing happens this time of year.
“I will say this, we didn’t know anything about it, but having been in this for the last three years, that stuff happens quite a bit, so miscommunication happens a lot of times,” Elway said.
EDELMAN RETURNS — Wide receiver Julian Edelman (Kent State) says he’s glad to be returning to the New England Patriots after a surprising breakout season. Edelman became a free agent last week, but a post on his Twitter account said, “Foxboro is home. Excited to be back.” The Patriots don’t always make official announcements when they reach contract agreements with their own players. Donald Yee, Edelman’s agent, did not respond to requests for comment.
Expected to be behind newcomer Danny Amendola on the wide receiver depth chart last year, Edelman had a career-high 105 catches, six for touchdowns. In his four other seasons with the Patriots since being drafted in 2009, he had 69 receptions. He also had 16 catches and one touchdown in the Patriots’ two playoff games last season but fell short of the Super Bowl when they lost the AFC championship game to the Denver Broncos 26-16.
He also had another strong season as a punt returner. His average of 12.3 yards per return over the past five seasons is second best in the NFL, behind Devin Hester’s 12.5.
GIANTS DEALS — The New York Giants bolstered their secondary by signing free-agent safety Quintin Demps and cornerback Walter Thurmond. Demps played for the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Thurmond spent his first four NFL seasons with Seattle.
JETS RE-SIGN PACE — The New York Jets re-signed veteran linebacker Calvin Pace to a two-year deal, bringing back one of their sacks leaders from last season. Pace had a career-high 10 sacks for Rex Ryan’s defense — second only to Muhammad Wilkerson’s 10½ — in his sixth season with the Jets. The 33-year-old outside linebacker was an unrestricted free agent.