After 12 NFL seasons, Emmanuel Sanders is calling it a career. The veteran wide receiver announced Wednesday that he is retiring as a member of the Broncos, signing an honorary contract with Denver to end his football journey with the team that helped him win a Super Bowl. The 35-year-old pass catcher, who openly contemplated retirement following the 2021 season, spent roughly half his career with the Broncos as a two-time Pro Bowler.
"I'm ending my career as a Super Bowl champion," Sanders said in an announcement video. "It's been a great ride. For me, I feel like it's the right time. ... I walk away from the game healthy. I just feel like it's my time. Now I can go home and run routes with my son, play basketball with my son, hang out with my kids and enjoy my life. I can honestly say I gave it my all. ... Every single rep, every single play, I tried to go 100 percent as hard as I can. And that's why I can hang my hat and say I gave the game everything I had, and the game gave it back to me."
Originally a third-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2010, Sanders spent the first four seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, where his role gradually increased alongside Pro Bowlers Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace. He enjoyed his best years after signing with the Broncos in 2014 free agency, logging a career-high 104 catches for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in his Denver debut. One of Peyton Manning's top targets early in his Broncos tenure, Sanders went three straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards, including Denver's 2015 championship run.
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Traded to the 49ers during the 2019 season, he still found success as a No. 2 option after leaving the Broncos. A 500-yard performance in eight games with San Francisco helped Sanders land a two-year deal with the Saints, who deployed him as a starter in 2020, and the veteran eclipsed 600 yards with the Bills as one of Josh Allen's most experienced outlets in 2021.
Sanders retires with 9,245 career receiving yards, which ranks just outside of the top 60 all-time pass catchers in NFL history.