The Falcons shook things up in 2019 when they traded wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots for a second-round pick. Sanu had carved out a role as a possession receiver with notable blocking abilities, frequently making those tough catches in traffic.
While the compensation was obviously too much for the Falcons to pass up for a player they could not afford in 2020, it was clear the team believed Calvin Ridley deserved a bigger role, while other players like Austin Hooper and Justin Hardy could pick up some of the slack.
Now Ridley has cemented in his role as the number 2 option in the passing game, but the other players are gone. Atlanta tried to get something out of Laquon Treadwell, the big-bodied bust, but he was cut and not brought back on the practice squad.
The Falcons obviously could use a player that would fit Sanu’s old role, so what better player than Sanu?
However, there are two reasons we do not expect Sanu to be signed this week before the game.
First, Sanu may need to clear the COVID protocol before signing, which has typically taken a few days. That would make it a stretch for Sanu to get in a single practice ahead of the Week 1 game. Team doctors almost certainly want to look at Sanu’s surgically-repaired ankle that has been so problematic.
Second, and perhaps more important, is that veteran salaries are no longer guaranteed if they are not signed ahead of Week 1. In 2018, the Falcons left open a roster spot in Week 1 in order to sign Steven Means after that deadline. Sanu, now 31, will almost certainly need a healthy year on a veteran-minimum deal before he can get a more sizable deal.
For those reasons, Sanu is not likely to play in Week 1. After that, look for a few teams to try to bring in the former Falcon, including Dan Quinn.