The contract Mohamed Sanu was given this offseason has been criticized about as much as Sam Baker's ludicrous contract extension after his one and only decent season. The fifth receiving option for the Cincinnati Bengals was somehow worth $32.5 million and $14 million guaranteed? That is a shocking number for a player with inconsistent hands, poor speed, and failed to earn a spot across from A.J. Green.
Was this another clearly poor move by the Atlanta Falcons? Or did they know something every football fan didn't? We covered all the poor grades on this contract, as well as a few analysts who thought he excelled as a WR1 in Cincinnati. Would he turn into a "more versatile, more durable and more reliable weapon [than] Hankerson?" Would he meet Nate Burleson's expectations as one of the best WR2s in the league?
After seven forgettable games, hoo boy.
Through seven games, Sanu has 40 targets for 23 receptions, 259 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an unimpressive 11.2 yards per catch (9.0 yards per catch if we ignore his 59 yard catch where he was simply uncovered). He's on pace for only 590 receiving yards.
For comparison purposes, Sanu is on pace to have a season strikingly similar to Harry Douglas's last season in Atlanta: 75 targets, 51 receptions, 556 yards, 10.9 yards per catch, and 2 touchdowns. Tevin Coleman is projected to have about 165 more receiving yards than Sanu on substantially fewer targets.
Remember when Roddy White was totally phased out of Atlanta's offense? Sanu is projected to have about 84 more yards than the overlooked Roddy. And Roddy still managed 11.8 yards per catch at 34 years old.
That might not be a fair comparison. Sanu is supposed to directly replace Leonard Hankerson, who was cut after 8 games. Hankerson finished his eight games in Atlanta with the following stat line: 45 targets, 26 receptions, 327 yards for 12.6 yards per catch and 3 touchdowns.
Just to match Hankerson's numbers, this Sunday Sanu needs 5 targets, 3 catches, 68 yards, and a touchdown. Call me skeptical, but Sanu has not taken advantage of Atlanta's high-powered offense, and he looks to be far less talented than Taylor Gabriel. Gabriel, of course, was pulled off of waivers right before the season, and makes $600,000 this year.
His numbers don't appear to be moving up, either. His stats are consistently unimpressive and it does not appear he's picking up the offense more than early season. Sanu looks to be a waste burning up valuable snaps across from Julio Jones, failing to make an impact despite having the second most targets on the team. Julio leads with 65 targets, Sanu comes in at a respectable 40, followed by Jacob Tamme with 29, Devonta Freeman at 28, Tevin Coleman at 24, Aldrick Robinson at 13, Taylor Gabriel at 10, Austin Hooper at 6, and Patrick DiMarco.
He's not beating corners, he's not making tough catches, and he's not making plays when he catches the ball. Why does he make less of an impact? His catch rate is preposterously low, especially for a player covered solely by a team's CB2. If a player catches 57.5% of his targets, you expect them to averaged well above 10.9 yards per catch.
As of right now, the Falcons would have similar success running the ball instead of throwing to Sanu. Julio Jones runs for DOUBLE Sanu's yardage for each target. Right now, Sanu is a slight upgrade over simply taking a knee. The fact that the Falcons offered Sanu $32.5 million is baffling. He is the same player we have seen for years in Cincinnati. There are no surprises here. He's not developing and didn't need a different offense. The Falcons overpaid a bad player and now fans are again watching this offense waste the WR2 spot. With his guaranteed money extending into 2017, we will see it all next year too.