Updated: March 16, 2014, 1:39 PM ET
ESPN.com news services
The Denver Broncos have agreed with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a three-year contract, the team announced.
Sanders’ deal is worth $15 million, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. The contract is pending a physical, the team said.
The #Broncos have agreed to terms with WR Emmanuel Sanders on a 3-yr deal, pending a physical: http://t.co/bMVo5WPqf8 pic.twitter.com/lSuM2XK9uU
– Denver Broncos (@Broncos) March 16, 2014
Sanders was one of the Broncos’ top targets on their list of free-agent wide receivers. The team believes he can play outside and in the slot in their scheme. Sanders was known to be considering the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers before deciding to sign with the Broncos.
NFL.com reported that although Sanders’ agent verbally agreed to terms in principle with the Chiefs he continued to shop his client to other teams, angering personnel from the teams involved in the negotiations.
“This was one of the worst situations in modern football negotiations,” an executive involved in the talks told NFL.com. “Totally wrong. This needs to be stopped.”
Sanders established career-highs in just about every major category in 2013, but inconsistency clouded his future with the Pittsburgh Steelers and ultimately led to his departure from the team that took him in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft.
The record-setting Broncos’ offense was in need for help at wide receiver after Eric Decker left in free agency for the New York Jets.
Sanders was believed to be seeking a contract in the range of the five-year, $31.5 million deal ($13.25 million guaranteed) that former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate snagged from the Lions earlier this week.
The Steelers were content to let the market determine Sanders’ value a year after they matched the one-year, $2.5 million contract the Patriots signed him to as a restricted free agent. Sanders, who turns 27 on March 17, has enough youth and talent to receive the kind of offer that the Steelers were unwilling to match.
He caught 67 passes for 740 yards and six touchdowns in 2013 and also showed a penchant for making a big play, as both a receiver and a part-time kickoff returner. But Sanders also had his share of untimely drops, including one on a 2-point conversion attempt that would have allowed the Steelers to take the Ravens into overtime in what turned out to be a close loss to their chief rivals.
Sanders’ health had been an issue at times in Pittsburgh, but the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder played in every game last season. He returned a week after spraining his knee to play in the Steelers’ regular-season finale.
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.
ESPN.com Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold and Steelers reporter Scott Brown contributed to this report.