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Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:00 PM

Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Before John Elway headed out to the golf course to take advantage of a sunny Sunday in the Rocky Mountains, the Denver Broncos’ general manager made yet another splash in free agency by signing wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a 3-year, $15 million contract.

The Broncos have been the league’s most successful suitors so far, committing nearly $128 million to five players, including three thumpers who will reinforce a defense that was exposed in the Super Bowl: safety T.J. Ward, cornerback Aqib Talib and pass rusher DeMarcus Ware; and two receivers inSanders and Bubba Caldwell.

“They definitely did a great job from a free-agent perspective,” Sanders said. “When I saw them bring in DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward, I was like, ‘They’re stacking up on defense.’ I knew with Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas and Wes Welker and (Bubba) Caldwell, I was like, ‘I would fit with these guys really well.’ When my agent, Steve Weinberg, got the call, we were definitely fist-bumping. We were hoping that the numbers matched and they matched. So yesterday was probably one of the best days of my life.”

A former Pittsburgh Steelers No. 2 receiver, Sanders can play both the slot and the outside in place of Eric Decker, who left Denver for the New York Jets.

 

This latest move left several teams fuming, according to NFL.com, which reported that Sanders’ agent, Weinberg, shopped his client around after agreeing to a deal with principle with the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

A call from The Associated Press to Weinberg went straight to voice mail Sunday and that mailbox was full.

Sanders defended his agent, saying Weinberg did nothing wrong. He said he visited four teams and when he was ready to sign they reached out to all four of those teams to ask for their final offer.

“And I guess the Chiefs felt like they had a deal. But we never officially had a deal,” Sanders said.

He said the fact that he was at the Chiefs’ facility at the time may have made them believe they had a deal in place.

Elway said this sort of thing happens this time of year.

“I will say this; we didn’t know anything about it but having been in this for the last three years, that stuff happens quite a bit, so miscommunications happens a lot of times,” Elway said.

Sanders, a third-round draft pick in 2010, had 161 catches for 2,030 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Steelers. He also has 13 receptions for 172 yards in four career playoff games.

Last year, he caught a career-best 67 passes for 740 yards and six TDs, including four over the Steelers’ final six games.

Although not as big as Decker, Sanders is fast and elusive — he ranked fourth in the league last year by causing opponents to miss 15 tackles.

Elway added, “I think he’s going to add a lot,” to Denver’s high-octane offense that shattered several records last year and was the envy of many a wide receiver who marveled at the numbers Manning put up week after week.

“It was amazing and I remember sitting at my house saying, ‘Man, that’s what I want to be a part of someday’,” Sanders added. “It always works out as long as you work hard. They had a really good season last year and hopefully we can repeat the same things and this time finish it off.”

Jets re-sign LB Pace to 2-year deal

NEW YORK — The New York Jets have re-signed veteran linebacker Calvin Pace to a 2-year deal, bringing back one of their sacks leaders from last season.

Pace had a career-high 10 sacks for Rex Ryan’s defense— second only to Muhammad Wilkerson’s 10 ½ — in his sixth season with the Jets. The 33-year-old outside linebacker was an unrestricted free agent.

Pace, who played his first five NFL seasons with Arizona, has 52 career sacks and has started every game the last three years. He is likely to be slated to start opposite Quinton Coples again this season.

The Jets cut Pace last offseason to save money under the salary cap before re-signing him last April. He rewarded them by having one of his best overall seasons, which included 53 tackles, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed.

Patriots free agent WR Edelman returning

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Wide receiver Julian Edelman says he’s glad to be returning to the New England Patriots after a surprising breakout season.

Edelman became a free agent last week but a post on his Twitter account read, “Foxboro is home. Excited to be back.”

The Patriots don’t always make official announcements when they reach contract agreements with their own players. Donald Yee, Edelman’s agent, did not respond to requests for comment.

Edelman also was a free agent before last season and re-signed with the Patriots.

Expected to be behind newcomer Danny Amendola on the wide receiver depth chart last year, Edelman had a career-high 105 catches, six for touchdowns. In his four other seasons with the Patriots since being drafted in 2009, he had 69 receptions. He also had 16 catches and one touchdown in the Patriots two playoff games last season but fell short of the Super Bowl when they lost the AFC championship game to the Denver Broncos 26-16.

Edelman emerged as Tom Brady’s top target after Wes Welker became a free agent before last season and signed with the Denver Broncos.

He also had another strong season as a punt returner. His average of 12.3 yards per return over the past five seasons is second best in the NFL, behind Devin Hester’s 12.5.

Edelman caught nearly twice as many passes as Amendola, who signed as a free agent when Welker left. Hampered by injuries, Amendola had 54 catches and two touchdowns. The next two wide receivers for the Patriots were rookies — Aaron Dobson with 37 catches and Kenbrell Thompkins with 32.

The return of Edelman provides some continuity for Brady, who will be 37 when he starts his 15th season.

A quarterback at Kent State, Edelman was drafted in the seventh round in 2009 and converted to wide receiver. Slowed by injuries, he played 48 of the 64 regular-season games in his first four years. But he was healthy all last season.

Since free agency began on Tuesday, the Patriots have re-signed tight end Michael Hoomanwanui and added cornerback Brandon Browner as a free agent. They also reached agreement with free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis, a 3-time All-Pro, according to his business manager, John Geiger.

Giants add Demps, Thurmond

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants bolstered their secondary by signing free agent safety Quintin Demps and cornerback Walter Thurmond.

Demps played for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and has previous stops in Philadelphia (2 seasons) and Houston (3).

Last season, he was third in the NFL with a 30.1-yard kickoff return average on 33 runbacks, including a 95-yard touchdown at Washington on Dec. 8. He also led the Chiefs with four interceptions.

Demps entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice of the Eagles in 2008.

Thurmond spent his first four NFL seasons with Seattle, which selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.

Thurmond played in 34 regular-season games with eight starts and made his only start in five postseason games in the Super Bowl. He was limited to six games in 2011 and two in 2012 because of injuries.

Last season, Thurmond played in 12 regular-season games with three starts. He missed four games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Thurmond returned for the regular-season finale against St. Louis and played in all three postseason games.

Last Updated on Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:09 PM
 

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