KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Saturday started off innocently enough awaiting news on former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who was visiting with the Chiefs.
Oct 13, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (88) catches a touchdown pass during the second half of their game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
But all remained silent out of One Arrowhead Drive of a potential signing as the day rolled along.
Then the action picked up in the late afternoon.
At approximately 4:53 p.m. CT and citing a souce, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason LaCanfora tweeted Sanders was scheduled to arrive in San Francisco Saturday night for a Sunday meeting with the 49ers.
Sanders also tweeted a video thanking Steelers fans at the same time as LaCanfora’s tweet.
Within minutes after Sanders’ tweet, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area 49ers reporter Matt Maiocco tweeted a story at approximately 4:58 p.m CT on the 49ers’ interest in Sanders.
The rush of actively would lead a reasonable person to conclude nothing was accomplished between Sanders and the Chiefs, and the wide receiver was now on his way to San Francisco.
Still, things aren’t always what they seem when it comes to the NFL.
Completely out of left field at 8:13 p.m. CT, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted the Denver Broncos were expected to sign Sanders.
FOX Sports 1 NFL reporter Alex Marvez then tweeted the Broncos and Sanders had agreed to terms.
And that’s not the end of it.
NFL reporter Aaron Wilson of The National Football Post followed up with a series of tweets: The first stating Sanders was still in Kansas City; the second stating the first tweet didn’t mean Sanders’ final destination wouldn’t change; and the final of the series stating something could happen on Sunday.
Throughout this period of confusion, numerous phone calls to Sanders’ agent, Steve Weinberg, seeking clarification went unanswered.
It took a little more than 90 minutes later, but there’s closure, according to Schefter:
Ultimately, the Broncos apparently got their guy, leaving the Chiefs still in need of a wide receiver in what is now a dwindling market at the position.
With Julian Edelman choosing to stay with the New England Patriot earlier Saturday, the free-agent options are slim.
Sanders, who turns 27 on Monday, would’ve provided the Chiefs an experienced and immediate replacement for Dexter McCluster, who signed with the Tennessee Titans on the first day of free agency.
Of course, the Chiefs could still turn to free agent wide receiver Jason Avant, who has ties to coach Andy Reid and virtually the entire Chiefs coaching staff.
But after missing out on Sanders, it remains to be seen if the team prefers to fill a position of need with a 30-year-old receiver or address it during May’s NFL Draft.
UPDATE: Ian Rapoport’s “Executives crying foul over Emmanuel Sanders deal” published at NFL.com offers insight on what happened Saturday.
According to Rapoport’s article, Sanders’ agent agreed in principle with the Chiefs, but then continued negotiating with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In between the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Weinberg eventually agreeing to terms with Denver, the 49ers were left out, according to Rapoport.
“This was one of the worst situations in modern football negotiations,” an executive involved told Rapoport. “Totally wrong. This needs to be stopped.”