Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is the kind of football player you want to play for your favorite team. He’s a physical, team-first receiver. Notwithstanding all the chatter about his contract after the Falcons signed him during the 2016 offseason, he’s done nothing but exceed expectations.
One thing Sanu does particularly well is run out routes. According to Pro Football Focus, Sanu didn’t just have success running out routes in 2017. He literally did it better than anyone else, earning an NFL-leading 135.1 WR rating.
For the second straight year, the Falcons wide receiver outperformed his peers on out routes and ended the 2017 season with 18 catches from 23 targets for 159 receiving yards and three touchdowns. If we look at his body of work on out routes over the last two seasons, Sanu leads all payers in total touchdowns (five) [and] catch rate (81.0 percent) [...]
Sanu’s role in the offense going forward is definitely something to keep an eye on. With the addition of Calvin Ridley and a Julio Jones pay raise coming down the pike, the writing may already be on the wall for Sanu. He’s under contract with the Falcons until the end of the 2020 season, but the team could opt out of his deal after this season. (That’d leave them on the hook for $4.2 million in dead money, which may be palatable, depending on the circumstances.)
For now Sanu is an Atlanta Falcon. He’s a big part of this offense, and watching him, Jones, and Ridley work this season will be a lot of fun. Enjoy it while it lasts, folks.
Edit: as some of you have correctly pointed out, cutting Sanu after June 1, 2019 cuts his dead money from $4.2 million to $1.4 million. That additional savings obviously couldn’t be used in the immediate free agent period, but maybe that works out for the Falcons in terms of their long-term savings.