As we continue on with our Career Window series, it’s time to engage in some Bean Talk.
Mohamed Sanu has been a staple on the Atlanta Falcons offense for the last three seasons, one of the better offensive free agents the team has acquired in quite some time.
He’s the second fiddle to Julio Jones, one of the best receivers in the league, and he’s far exceeded expectations in that role. He’s a reliable red zone threat, has sure hands and possesses a tenacity the team so desperately needs.
If you’re looking for one of the driving forces behind this era of Falcons football, don’t overlook Agent 12. He’s a vital cog in the Dan Quinn machine, though his future with the franchise is something we need to consider.
Where Sanu Has Been and Is Now
Over the last three seasons, Sanu has averaged about 731 yards per season and about four touchdowns (per NFL.com), making him one of the more prolific WR2s in the NFL. He and Ryan have sound chemistry, and he fits right in with what the Shanahan/Sarkisian/hopefully Koetter offense calls for.
His contract, up to now, has been about the going rate for a good free agent secondary receiver (about $7 million a season). It’s a premium, but you get what you paid for, effectively. The Falcons have gotten from Sanu good, consistent play from the position, effective quarterback play, and leadership in the locker room.
Some feel like the contract will always be a little high, but most contracts are. He’s been right about what you’d hope he’d be, and then some. Players like Sanu just don’t come around very often, and you appreciate them while you have them.
Where Sanu is Headed
This is the hard part of the Sanu conversation. He’s got two years left on his deal, which will pay him about $7 million a season from here on (close to $8 million in 2020, per Spotrac). He has shown no signs of slowing down, and only turns 30 in August. He should have at least three more years of playing at this level, and potentially many more.
All signs point to the team keeping him around through at least 2019, though the emergence of Calvin Ridley complicates matters.
On the one hand, having Sanu, Ridley and Jones feels like something most teams would covet. It’s a spoil of riches at an important position to have talent, and new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will no doubt enjoy having such talent in his pass-happy offense.
The team will have the money to pay Sanu in 2019, though asking about a restructure and perhaps a small extension might not be out of the plans.
Ridley will likely assume the WR2 duties this season, making Sanu a wonderful luxury as a WR3. He’d be one of the best to have that designation leaguewide, but long-term, can the Falcons fit three high-end receivers under their cap?
Put another way: With so many extensions coming up, how long will the team be able to pay Sanu when another team could and probably would, pay him more?
His career window hints that he may be playing like this for the next half decade, as he’s not overly dependent on his wheels to make plays. Whether he finishes his career in Atlanta is another story entirely, and one less certain of the ending we all want it to have.
Sanu will most likely be back in 2019, which is great to think about. He’s talented, a leader and has a rapport in this offense. 2020 and beyond is less certain, but the Falcons will likely make an effort to keep him around.
He’ll have a great duration of his career, but with the team’s future finances what they are, it’s just unclear as of now as to whether it’ll be the Falcons or another team benefiting from his skillset.
All we know is that he’s deserving of a pay day wherever he lands with what he can give a team, and he’s made Atlanta better for being here. We’ll enjoy this year with Sanu on the field and hope for more.