Emmanuel Sanders Bonus Highlights His Importance to New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints enter the postseason on the back of an impressive Week 17 victory over the Carolina Panthers. A highlight of the game was the moment wider receiver Emmanuel Sanders achieved a bonus worth $500,000 mid-way through the second half. Sanders’ reaction to his 60th reception of the season was to raise both his arms in celebration knowing he had achieved a performance-based bonus in his contract. However, more significantly, Sanders’ overall performance in the 33-7 victory showcased how crucial he has become to the Saints offense. 

Emmanuel Sanders Bonus Highlights His Importance to New Orleans Saints

Emmanuel Sanders Bonus Highlights His Effectiveness 

The moment came when Sanders caught a nine-yard curl route for a first down with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. He entered the game needing eight receptions to get the bonus and that seemed unlikely until Sanders racked up several catches early. The FOX broadcast team was well aware of the significance of Sanders’ eighth reception in the game. Adam Amin (play-by-play) and Mark Schlereth (analyst) highlighted the $500,000 incentive in Sanders’ contract during the game. The broadcasters were amused with Sanders’ reaction to his 60th reception of the season. 

Sanders caught nine receptions for 63 yards on the day to ensure he earned his performance-based bonus. Sandlers also crossed 700 receiving yards for the season on Sunday. In his first season with the Saints, he ended the year with five touchdown receptions. His fifth touchdown of the season gave New Orleans the lead early in the second quarter against Carolina. It was a lead they didn’t relinquish as they scored 26 unanswered points to close out a comfortable win. 

The NFL’s Good Luck Charm

As mentioned earlier, Sanders surpassed 700 receiving yards for the season in the Saints Week 17 victory. This marks the third season in a row Sanders has reached the 700 hundred yard mark as he remains a productive receiver into his thirties. The wideout has now amassed 8,619 receiving yards over a successful ten-year career.

Sanders is also something of a good luck charm to NFL teams. The two-time pro bowler has played in three Super Bowls for three different franchises. He came extremely close to making the potential game-winning catch in Super Bowl 54 while playing for the San Francisco 49ers just last February. However, he did win Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos. He led both teams in receiving yards with 83 on the biggest stage in sports. 

Some will argue the veteran receiver has been fortunate to be part of championship-caliber rosters over his career. In reality, the NFL community should look at Sanders as a winner. He is clearly appreciated by his teammates, exudes confidence, and has the ability to backup his confidence with his play.

To be as productive as Sanders has been on four different teams, with several quarterbacks, and in multiple schemes, speaks to Sanders’ ability, football intelligence, and work rate.  

Emmanuel Sanders Key To New Orleans Saints Offense in Playoffs

Sanders has provided solid relief as a number one receiver in Michael Thomas’ absence this season. Prior to the team’s Week 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs it was reported that Thomas would miss the remainder of the regular season. The team is hoping the decision has given Thomas time to recover from lingering leg injuries and come back fully healthy for a potential Super Bowl run. 

With Thomas on the sidelines Sanders has developed a connection with Drew Brees. He has reached at least 60 receiving yards in each of the past three games. After a slow start, Sanders has returned Sean Payton’s faith in him, and has become a reliable target for Brees. 

Heading into the postseason, Sanders should resume his role as the number two receiver. The New Orleans offense will be more balanced on paper with Thomas at full strength. The formidable one-two punch of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray in the backfield helps provide an excellent run game for the Saints. Moreover, Taysom Hill continues to run the ball effectively from wildcat formations. Sanders will see more one-on-one matchup opportunities moving forward, especially if opponents have to load the box to stop Kamara and Murray and Thomas comes back healthy. 

New Orleans Saints Playoff Opponent Decided

The New Orleans Saints 12-4 record earned them the number two seed in the NFC. Consequently, New Orleans will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday night of “super wildcard weekend.”

Saints fans have every right to be confident going into the contest with the 8-8 Bears. However, Chicago has nothing to lose and one of the best defenses in the league. New Orleans offense has been hot and cold in 2020 and now has to game plan for one of the best defensive players in football in Khalil Mack. Mack will line up opposite an offensive line that generally protects their quarterback well but failed to do so last postseason. The Saints gave up pressures consistently in a wildcard round loss to the Minnesota Vikings last January. 

The Saints need their stars healthy against the Bears, particularly on offense. No one knows what version of Michael Thomas will be available to New Orleans against the Bears. Emmanuel Sanders’ performance will be a big factor in how the Saints offense performs in the postseason. 

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