Dale Carter (L), Emmanuel Sanders (C) and Alex Gibbs (R) have all been subjects of controversy between the Chiefs and Broncos
It might not seem so bad if the Chiefs did not share residence in the AFC West cul-de-sac with the Denver Broncos. Possibly, it wouldn’t sting as much if the Broncos weren’t on a spending spree in the free-agency market, bulking up for a shot at another Super Bowl with Peyton Manning.
And, maybe it wouldn’t really matter if the Chiefs had been more active in adding players, rather than treading carefully in the shallows of the free agency waters.
But the Emmanuel Sanders Affair over the weekend was bad for the Chiefs for all those reasons and several more. The biggest may have been the wasted effort that went into hammering out an agreement with an agent that has a history of sketchy behavior.
If you ever wondered why the first public pronouncement of a team adding a player always comes out from unnamed sources before the club makes the signing official it’s because of situations like what went down with the former Steelers wide receiver. It doesn’t count, until the contract is signed by all involved parties.
The facts in the case are these: Saturday the Chiefs worked out an agreement for Sanders services with his agent Steve Weinberg after two days of negotiations. As soon as that deal was put together, Weinberg picked up the phone and called the Tampa Bay Bucs to see if they could top the K.C. offer. Conversation was also held with another team that showed early interest in Sanders.
Then, the Broncos called Weinberg after they had lost out on a deal for wide receiver Brandon LaFell; he left Carolina for New England. Before Saturday night was over, an agreement was negotiated between Weinberg and the Broncos and it was signed on Sunday by Sanders in Denver: 3 years, $15 million.
As far as we know, Weinberg and Sanders broke no federal or state laws, and did not violate any regulations established by the NFL Players Association. What they did was unseemly and part of the nasty underbelly of negotiations between teams and players.
All parties involved have their own vision of what happened in this case:
- Sanders: I believe my agent; there was no agreement with the Chiefs.
- Weinberg: I did what was in the best interest of my client.
- Broncos: All is fair in love, war and . . .
- Chiefs: &*%*#@$!!
There are also the unspoken truths:
- Sanders: Pass up a chance to play with Peyton and go back to the Super Bowl (he was there in 2010 with Pittsburgh)? Are you nuts?
- Weinberg: Emmanuel makes more, so I make more, simple as that.
- Broncos: We hurt the Chiefs and got a good player β how is that bad?
- Chiefs: &*%*#@$!!
Sanders would have been a nice addition for the Chiefs offense, bringing an element of speed in the slot; more speed than Dexter McCluster provided last season. But he also has an injury history (a screw in each foot) and in 56 games he had 161 catches, or right at three catches a game for an average of 12.6 yards per catch. Sanders averaged a score every 15 receptions. None of those numbers rank him among the league’s best No. 1, 2 or even some No. 3 receivers.
The options available for the Chiefs in the aftermath of what happened are slim and none. They can file a grievance against Weinberg, but that comes down to he-said, he-said and that’s unlikely to have a positive outcome for the team. They can say they’ll never pursue another Weinberg client, but that’s tough to do in the never ending search for talented players. Denver’s top guy John Elway will be all apologetic when he runs into John Dorsey and Andy Reid at the NFL meetings later this month, and he’ll walk away with a secret smile on those big buck teeth of his.
This is not the first time the Chiefs and Broncos have danced on contract situations that turned frosty. In January 1995, Chiefs offensive line coach Alex Gibbs signed a new contract with the team after two years working on Marty Schottenheimer’s staff. But then Mike Shanahan got the head job with the Broncos and began wooing Gibbs to come west and join him, which he eventually did with a fancy title that was supposedly a promotion. The Chiefs asked then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to step into the matter, providing phone records to show conversations between Shanahan and Gibbs from the Arrowhead Stadium coaching offices after Gibbs signed with the Chiefs. Nothing came of the situation.
Then in the 1999 off-season the Broncos made a big run in free agency on Chiefs cornerback Dale Carter. The money quickly grew to be far more than the Chiefs wanted to invest in a defensive back that was slowing down on the field, and a headache off the field. At the time Carter was one more failed drug test away from a full-season suspension from the league.
Once they realized how badly Shanahan wanted Carter, the Chiefs stayed in the bidding, driving the price up several times until Denver committed to a six-year, $34.8 million contract with a $7.8 million signing bonus. At the time, that was the second biggest contract in NFL history for a defensive back, topped only by a five-year, $35 million deal signed by Deion Sanders in Dallas.
All this happened during a time when the Broncos were making moves with their payroll involving deferred money that violated the NFL salary cap and they were disciplined two different times with fines and lost draft choices.
Oh, and Carter failed a drug test early in 2000 and was suspended for the entire season; he never played again for Denver.
So just add Emmanuel Sanders as another chapter of less than friendly relations between the Chiefs and Broncos. More will come. They always do.