$32 million for Sanu? Falcons overpaid to replace Roddy White (updated)

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Ramik Wilson (53) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Cincinnati wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Ramik Wilson in the second half of a game last season. Sanu has been signed by the Falcons. (AP photo)

(Updated 7 a.m.: See below)

Roddy White’s role in the offense was reduced last season and he fell from 80 catches in 2014 to 43 in 2015. The Falcons were so anxious to cut the greatest wide receiver in franchise history that they’ll carry $3.775 million of dead money on the salary cap.

Mohamed Sanu fell from 56 catches in 2014 to 33 with Cincinnati last season. Were the Falcons turned off? No. They were so anxious to sign him that they gave him a $32.5 million contract, including $14 million in guarantees, a nice raise for a guy who made $1.5 million in 2015.

This, for a No. 2 wide receiver.

Help me understand this.

I know some folks were stunned Wednesday when the Falcons paid so much for a starting center in Alex Mack (five years, $47.5 million). But in the team’s defense, Mack is one of the game’s premier centers (three Pro Bowls), he plays a position the Falcons have floundered at for three seasons and he wasn’t making far less than that in Cleveland (opting out two years into a five-year, $42 million deal).

But the money the Falcons are giving to Sanu smacks of desperation. They’re weak at wide receiver because they lost Harry Douglas to Tennessee in free agency two years ago, Leonard Hankerson proved to be a horrible replacement and they chose to release White after reducing his role in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

I’m not suggesting Sanu is a mediocre receiver. He’s above average. He had 56 receptions with an average of 14.1 yards per catch and five touchdowns in 2014. He also can be used in different roles, be it running reverses or lining up as a quarterback in the wild cat formation. But there is nothing to suggest he is worth this kind of money — money that the team could have been spent on a player to strengthen the defense in general and the pass rush in particular.

And remember, it’s still Julio Jones’ show on offense.

With the signing following the generally unpopular decision to cut White, there will be significant pressure on Sanu to live up to this contract and on Shanahan, Matt Ryan and the Falcons to make this work.

Count me among the skeptics.

UPDATE: NFL.com “Around The League‘s Gregg Rosenthal wrote a column titled, “Seven riskiest signings of free agency so far.” Guess who tops the list? Or is tied at the top, anyway. Rosenthal lists Sanu and fellow former Cincinnati wide receiver Marvin Jones as 1 and 1A on the list. (Jones was signed by Detroit to replace the retiring Calvin Johnson.) Also on the list is new Miami defensive end Mario Williams (whom I wrote about here).

Rosenthal wrote that Sanu and Jones “benefited from a razor thin free-agent wide receiver market” and called Sanu “essentially the fifth receiver in Cincinnati last year and did not quite measure up when he was asked to start while replacing Jones in 2014. He didn’t top 500 yards in any other season. Ultimately, he is a solid underneath receiver with flexibility that is getting paid like a top-level starter. His contract (five years for $32 million and $14 million guaranteed) positions him as a No. 2 wideout.”

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56 comments
Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

Where might the results be from the plethora of good moves the Falcons have made?

Not one championship in their history and only one appearance in the SB when they somehow got past the better Vikings, probably as a result of their overconfidence and a rare miss by their FG kicker.

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

This is just par for the course for the usual idiot Falcon GM. Name one GM the Falcons have ever had who was ahead of the curve in his profession?

Answer: none of them including the five idiot ones on staff now doing something.

Something evidently does not include thinking.

E983
E983

So he came from the Bengals. Maybe he's trying to turn his life around. Everybody sing now.....

tmc
tmc

This is classic signing by a bad team/francise. They have to over pay to get anyone to join the team. So they way over pay for an unproven talent. It would be different to over pay for a proven player, but bad GM's think they know better and take a huge risk. This signing will either be a good signing (not great) or a colossal failure that hamstrings the team financially for several years. Based on history for this franchise and this GM, my money's on the later. And the local fans and media know it's a big stretch.

ZAZ
ZAZ

Roddy was a distraction and bad for the locker room. Disagree? Well, just refer back to his camp's response when he was cut. He is done & Schultz/others need to come to this realization.

Scamwatcher
Scamwatcher

The entire salary scene for these greedy players is a &@;& joke. But if the teams are dumb enough to throw obscene amounts of money at them I would laugh and take it myself.

Of course if fans are stupid enough to throw their hard earned money at these greedy owners, coaches, and players then why not. I finally wised up ten years ago and haven't given them a cent out of my pockets since. Of course I suppose the crooks and their political henchmen have extorted some of my tax money.

ShovelPlease
ShovelPlease

Why all the love for the overpaid, aged Roddy White?  The Falcons paid market price for a younger, (much) faster wide receiver.  That's business.  

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Jeff Schultz is there any move the falcons have made in the last six months that your happy about??  Please enlighten us you plethora of excitement !

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

Where might the results be from the plethora of good moves the Falcons have made?

No championships in their history.

Only one appearance in the big game which came after a huge upset over a likely better team (Vikings).

Harlemdawg
Harlemdawg

Typical Dimitroff move.   Spend, spend, spend on offense!  And then piece together a defense, which as we all know wins championships.....

noname
noname

The lesser teams have to pay more to get a player to come. It is a salary cap, so put together the best team you can based on your own opportunities. 

Now each Falcon GM can have a round to draft their favorite player. The GM that picks the player that contributes the best gets to make the first round pick next year, and so forth. A flawless system.

UGA76
UGA76

At least now Atlanta can use there first four picks on a Guard, two LBs and a DE.  

DugoutDog1
DugoutDog1

@JeffSchultzAJC I disagree. Cost of a 26 yr old healthy WR with speed and hands is $6.5MM+ per. 34 yr old White got $6MM and lost a step.

Witisiah
Witisiah

@JeffSchultzAJC it we make it back to the playoffs and make a deep run. Doesn't matter. Wins is all I want to see

Tp1020
Tp1020

@JeffSchultzAJC they way the contract was broken down I think the deal is fine plus he's 26. I loved White but was time to move on.

robo2000
robo2000

They would be better off with 2 draft choices on WR, the chances are better than 50/50 one would be just as good as sanu.

19palmer49
19palmer49

Blank, Dimitroff and Quinn-the The Stooges !

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

Don't forget Shanahan. He can be shemp or curly Joe

mgunter
mgunter

Good sign, guy has great character and integrity unlike R White. Better than average receiver. Schultz, you are wrong on over payment........ All football players are overpaid.......millions to play a kids game!

slydawg
slydawg

Seattle, Green Bay, Carolina, Minnesota: What is the state of their WR core? Denver had good receivers but had a QB who could not throw 15 yards anymore. New England only has Gronk.

Anyway, here is my thesis: The Falcons are not going to win a Super Bowl, much less make an appearance, with this current mix of front office and coaching staff. Kyle Shannahan should just have been hired as the coach instead of the cliche' blowhard who continues to get pumped up to work with...... Backups....

This is not about the market rate for a WR or a C.... You pay what the market commands. Its about logic, flow, and a clearly defined plan. There is not one person in this current existence who can unequivocally express confidence in the franchise

1newprodigy
1newprodigy

@Josh_Kirkendall can't help but completely agree with him, but I'm Happy for Sanu. I just don't get all the upset Bengal fans about it.

Abbas H
Abbas H

Sanu was my neighbor and is not just a really good player but a great person. He broke all time receiving Fitzgerald record at Rutgers. He was mostly wasted at Bengals. Give him a qb who targets him regularly and he will win you games any day. Worth more than 30 mils!! All the best Moh.

dmccokc
dmccokc

falcons should draft Sterling Shepard from U of Oklahoma. would be a better option.

Falcons2013
Falcons2013

After having season tix for 25 years I won't pay for PSL if we brought in a young Tom Brady. I'm glad Falcons are making moves and trying to get better. Can truly say it isn't my dollars they are spending on these guys as I am out as a season ticket holder. I hope these guys work out and most of all look good on my home big screen tv.

swagner0023
swagner0023

@JeffSchultzAJC Name one player worth his money. I can only think of one, Tom Brady who only makes $9m. Brock just got twice as much!

Bug
Bug

This kid may be the second coming you don't know, but it is what it is so for goodness sake let Roddy White die in peace.

Bug
Bug


Look u need to get off of the Roddy comparisons, first of all who cares? Roddy is GONE and he should be, he was the one overpaid and long in the tooth. He could not get separation from a turtle.



ATLFan
ATLFan

I don't know much about Sanu, but I do understand organizational dynamics. Cutting one of the owner's favorite players and then paying a lot of money for his replacement does not endear you to an owner's heart!

J_Slaven13
J_Slaven13

@JeffSchultzAJC overpaid? What are you basising that assumption on? It's only $14 mil guaranteed. And he made less than other FA WRs

DawgNole
DawgNole

@aaroncwill @JeffSchultzAJC

Half a century of championship-less football tends to bring out the negativity in most fans long ago weary of Falcon mediocrity.