Emmanuel Sanders couldn't pass up opportunity to play with Drew Brees and the Saints
The New Orleans Saints virtually came out of nowhere to land free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and there were plenty of teams interested in his services. Sanders signed a two-year, $16 million deal that's worth up to $19 million total, and the expectations are high for him as a top receiving threat for the new season.
Throughout his teleconference interview on Sunday afternoon, the main theme was clear from Sanders, which is wanting to do his part to help the Saints get to and win a Super Bowl. Sanders opened by saying how excited he was to join the team, stating that he's been a fan of Sean Payton and Drew Brees for a very long time. That excitement reminded him of his days with the Denver Broncos in 2014 alongside Peyton Manning, and Sanders only hopes to replicate that season of production for New Orleans.
Sanders opened with, “To play with Drew Brees, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. How could I pass up that opportunity and to play in a Sean Payton system. It’s crazy, everytime I’ve played in New Orleans’ stadium, it’s always big-time, it’s always a good vibe and I just love the indoor environment, the black, the entire environment. I would be looking around and (thinking) ‘this is cool’. I’m excited about putting up a lot of points.”
Sanders mentioned that the Texans and Cowboys both had opportunities, but talked to his grandmother when free agency had started, saying that his family was praying that he goes to New Orleans.
“She loves that team (Saints). She loves Drew Brees, she loves Sean Payton, she loves the offense and she loves to watch them play. When I called her and told her she was so excited, not only that but she was excited because of that they can drive to the game if they want. I don’t know how much of a distance it is, but I know last year when we played against San Fran, we had 15 family members drive up, so it can’t be that long of a drive. That’s pretty cool to be back down South and be close to my family as well.”
Sanders legitimately becomes a top threat in the Saints offense, presumably lining up opposite of Michael Thomas. However, he's willing to do whatever Payton asks of him, and that he's just going to be himself. His role hasn't been carved out yet, but Sanders is ready to put in the work to be the best he possibly can.
"I think ultimately the goal is to try to bring a Super Bowl to New Orleans and that’s the reason I signed that deal, because I have a great chance at winning another Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.”
“The thing is they have a Super Bowl-winning coach, they have a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Winning a Super Bowl is hard to do from the jump. I think that what’s special about it is to attain it, it requires a special group of guys with the right DNA to do be able to do it. I think the Saints have it, because they have proven players that have already done it. I think it’s really about coming together even more. That’s what I’m saying.
"When I get there I’m not going to try to push anyone, I’m just going to be who I am. I feel like my personality, I feel like I have a dog-type mentality. I feel like the Saints have a lot of dog-type mentality as well when I watch Drew Brees and how he executes. He loves to win and I can tell the way he plays. Michael Thomas, he plays with so much passion. I think that dog mentality and you combine that with a lot of love for the organization and team, I feel like that DNA right there is capable of winning games and winning it all. So, at the end we have to come together and do it collectively. There’s going to be games where it’s going to be crunch time and we have to get ourselves out of those games. I think that has a lot to do with team chemistry as well. When I get there I’m going to try to be the best teammate, at the same time I’m going to be me and hopefully it fits.”
Sanders was asked about communication with any of his new teammates, to which he said that Brees had texted him to tell him how excited he was to play with him, but that was it. Sanders echoed the thought, and said he would see him soon.
"I’m ready to get to work, get the chemistry down and learn the offense. It’s exciting times for me and my family. I’m excited to be with the New Orleans Saints. You can’t take these times for granted to have a team like this. We have to take advantage of it. It’s not going to be easy. We have to put it all together and the only way we can do that is hard work. I feel they have the right nucleus here and I know what I’m going to bring to the table. I’m ready to work every day. I’m ready to do whatever I have to do, so that what we do is special here this year.”
Sanders said very humbly that he feels like he can play inside or outside and run every single route that's asked of him, but ultimately leaves that up to what Sean Payton wants him to do. They haven't gotten into the specifics of that yet, but it'll come in time and should be a good fit.
“At the end of the day, I’m just here to whatever I have to do. I’m a player where if they tell me to go block, I’m going to block. If you tell me to run this route, I’m going to run it. I feel like I put a lot of work in and stand on my work ethic alone and if I don’t know how to do it I’m going to work at it and work at it until I get it. That’s my mentality.”
The Saints may have only brought in two key players through free agency thus far, but it's hard to argue they weren't big hits and solve big puzzles they'll face in 2020. It's hard to remember an offseason where New Orleans hasn't had so many spots to fill or address, and that's a testament to how they've handled their own. The draft, which is about a month away, should provide some nice lagniappe for the team.