Following a complete offensive collapse in the 2015 season, the Falcons needed to upgrade their receiving corps. The jury's out on whether Mohamed Sanu is a huge upgrade, but he's heading to Atlanta.
The #Falcons have signed WR Mohammad Sanu to a five-year deal, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2016
For #Falcons WR Mohammad Sanu, it's a 5-year deal worth $32.5M, source said. $14M fully guaranteed.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2016
The six-foot-two wide receiver was somewhat forgotten in Cincinnati. Following a breakout 2014 season featuring 56 receptions for 790 yards and five touchdowns, Sanu was reduced to just 33 catches for 394 years and zero touchdowns in 2015. Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones emerged as Andy Dalton's primary targets behind A.J Green. Sanu's inability to win consistently against man coverage and dropping fourteen passes in 2014 may have caused his demotion.
At 26 years old, he is entering his prime and needed a change of scenery. Before this year, Dalton was one of the more inefficient quarterbacks in the league. Sanu can depend on a more consistent quarterback and better usage within Kyle Shanahan's offense. At close to seven million per year, it will take major improvement from him to justify this contract. Sanu has been labeled as a "gadget type" wide receiver for his ability to be used in a variety of ways. Brian Billick recently praised him for being so versatile. They will need to improvise unique designs to get the most out of him. Hue Jackson used him for reverses, screens, and as a quarterback. Atlanta's defense was on the receiving end of Sanu's fifty yard throw during a loss in the 2014 season. Despite having Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman as top-tier playmakers, Shanahan's offense could definitely use more unpredictability.
How will Mohamed Sanu impact the Falcons?
With his contract, he will be inserted into a starting role. He'll need to consistently win one-on-one coverage and become a viable red zone option if Matt Ryan is going to trust him If Sanu can avoid drops and make defenses respect him, this could end up being a positive move.
The offense received little to no production from their number two wide receiver last season. It won't take much for Sanu to outproduce Roddy White and Leonard Hankerson. Whether he progresses into a quality starter is the real question.
Where will he be on the depth chart?
Sanu will absolutely be a starter, although Shanahan will move him around the offense. Justin Hardy is set to be utilized as a slot receiver. The wide receiver picture is far from unsettled in Atlanta. With his massive contract though, you would have to expect Sanu to start alongside Julio Jones.