Updated: March 16, 2014, 5:02 PM ET
Jeff Legwold | ESPN.com
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was formally introduced as a newly-minted Denver Broncos wide receiver Sunday and the team’s newest free-agent catch was emphatic no deal was in place in Kansas City or elsewhere before he put pen to paper in the Broncos’ complex.
“That entire situation is a business ordeal that some people have turned into a personal matter,” Sanders said. “Situations like that happen all the time all over the National Football League. There was no handshake, there was no kind of agreement, we were close to a deal, but there wasn’t anything official just yet. But in terms of shopping around, we didn’t shop around, teams were still calling, teams were still trying to get involved.”
When asked following his introductory news conference if he had seen reports that unnamed Chiefs officials believed Sanders and his representatives had agreed to terms on a multiyear deal with the Chiefs, Sanders added: “I guess the Chiefs feel like we had a deal, but we never officially had a deal. The thing is I was at their facility, so of course they thought ‘well, if Emmanuel is here then of course he’s going to sign with us,’ but that’s never the case, just because I’m there doesn’t mean I have to sign with you.”
Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway said he was unaware there was any potential issues as the Broncos negotiated with Sanders.
“I will say this, we didn’t know anything about it, but also having been in this now for the last three years that kind of stuff happens quite a bit,” Elway said. “Miscommunications happen all the time.”
The Broncos welcomed Sanders into the fold on Twitter.
Emmanuel Sanders has officially signed with the #Broncos. RT to welcome him to Denver! pic.twitter.com/PMOLXCQTGm
– Denver Broncos (@Broncos) March 16, 2014
Sanders signed a three-year deal that can be worth as much as $18 million if he hits all of the performance-based escalators in the contract. The Broncos have constructed the deal so Sanders will receive a $3 million bonus next March, meaning this year’s salary cap charge is a relatively friendly $4 million.
The Broncos see Sanders as a player who can line up in both the slot or outside in the Broncos’ scheme. Sanders had visits with the Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing with the Broncos.
“We’ve always had interest all the way through free agency, Sanders said. “… Whoever the source is who said that, it’s a shame on them that it had to get this out of hand.”
Sanders also said when he signed with the Broncos, “I ended up with the team I wanted to be on.”
Sanders finished 2013 with career-bests in catches (67), receiving yards (740) and touchdowns (six). The Broncos pro personnel department had him rated as one of the top receivers available in the open market with some of the team who believed he was the best fit of the free-agent receivers because of his run-after-the-catch abilities.
The Broncos did not make an offer to Eric Decker, who signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the New York Jets last week. The Broncos also signed Andre Caldwell to a two-year deal just before free agency formally opened last Tuesday.
Last season, Sanders was also part of some free agency drama when the Pittsburgh Steelers matched the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet from the New England Patriots when Sanders was a restricted free agent.
Sanders did have some untimely drops in his four seasons with the Steelers, including one on a two-point conversion attempt in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens this past season.
A source previously told ESPN.com that teams might be leery of offering a long-term deal to Sanders due to medical concerns. He has a screw in each foot, stemming from injuries he sustained in the Super Bowl following the 2010 season. Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Boardof Selectors since 1999