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Sanders is the latest free-agent prize of the Broncos, where he'll work with Peyton Manning. LaFell joins the Patriots, where Tom Brady has a serious need for downfield threats.
According to NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, Sanders seems likely to take over Eric Decker's role in the Broncos' offense.
Making Sanders' signing more interest, is a behind the scenes look at how the deal got done. The former Steeler visited the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs contend Sanders reached a verbal agreement with them on Saturday.
Sanders' agent Steve Weinberg then negotiated with the Buccaneers, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Weinberg never told the Bucs he had accepted the Chiefs' offer. This all happened before he went to the Broncos. Sanders and Weinberg also irritated the San Francisco 49ers by agreeing to visit, then failing to follow through.
A Broncos source told Rapoport on Sunday that the team had no knowledge of any prior agreements before they agreed to terms with Sanders.
Not that it matters. ... As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio explained, Sanders had the right to pull the plug on the Chiefs. Regardless of what the Chiefs think of Weinberg’s alleged tactics, a deal isn’t done until it’s signed and filed and approved by the league office.
Indeed, the Broncos announced the deal on Sunday morning after Sanders took a physical with the club. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, it's a three-year deal worth $15 million.
Meanwhile, with Andre Caldwell also re-signing, Denver's top four receivers are set with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Sanders and Caldwell. Sanders can play on the inside and out, although Rosenthal likes him best out of the slot. Unfortunately for fantasy owners looking for a degree of certainty when making their projections, that's a crowded spot in Denver with Welker and Thomas usually playing between the hash marks.
Also, as Denver Post staffer Mike Klis kindly suggested this morning, "Statistically, Sanders is no Decker."
The past two seasons, Decker's 172 catches, 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns were greater Sanders' four-year career numbers (161 catches, 2,030 yards, 11 touchdowns).
Sanders caught a career-high 67 passes for 740 yards last season. According to Rosenthal, Sanders is "not a game-changer, but his arrival helps ensure that Decker's departure doesn't sting much. Sanders fits best somewhere between a No. 2 and No. 3 receiver, although Peyton Manning has a way of making any receiver look better."
Remember: Sanders' health had been an issue at times in Pittsburgh, but the 5-11, 180-pounder played in every game last season. He returned a week after spraining his knee to play in the Steelers' regular-season finale. He also has a screw in each foot, stemming from injuries he sustained in the Super Bowl following the 2010 season. He missed some practice time last year to rest the feet when sore, but he never missed a game because of them. ...
In New England, LaFell is going to sign a contract worth $11 million over three seasons.
The 6-2, 208-pound LaFell caught 49 passes for 627 yards and five touchdowns in Carolina last season. He had a solid game against the Patriots, catching a season-high seven passes in the Panthers win over the Patriots. He had 44 catches for 677 yards and four scores in 2012.
As CSNNE.com's Tom Curran notes, LaFell can work inside in the slot or outside the numbers. He will be a complement to Julian Edelman -- re-signed on Saturday -- and Danny Amendola.
Rosenthal believes LaFell could emerge as a red-zone target for Brady. I suspect any receiver who's able to gain Brady's trust can pull that off. And that will be the key for LaFell the same as it's been for every receiver who's played with Brady. The requirements are simple: Run the routes; be where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there. ... And do it every time.
LaFell's ability (or inability) to meet those requirements will be something we watching closely as OTAs and mini-camps progress.
Aaron Dobson is coming off foot surgery but will also be in the mix as will Kenbrell Thompkins.
As Florio summed up on this one, "While the Patriots may not have a high amount of quality at the decision, it looks like they’ve got the quantity thing covered."
Also worth noting. ... Troubled but talented Kenny Britt, last of the Tennessee Titans, also reportedly had a visit lined up with New England this week.
In a semi-related note, the Cardinals signed another former Panther, Ted Ginn, to a three-year contract this week.
Ginn scored five touchdowns on offense for the Panthers last year, or one fewer than the former first-rounder had scored in his first six seasons in the league. He’s also continued to be a threat as a return man, and with the Cardinals, there’s no pressure on him to be more than a third option and a special-teamer.
And again, the Panthers now have six wide receivers under contract for the coming season. They have a combined total of five catches and one touchdown.