DENVER — For the Broncos, one game can be the difference between entering the fringes of playoff contention or another year of residing at the bottom of the league.
For two of the best players in Broncos’ history, one game may also be the difference between keeping Chris Harris Jr. and Emmanuel Sanders through the end of this season, or putting them on the trading block.
With the trading deadline less than two weeks away and the Broncos playing their next game at Indianapolis, it’s fair to wonder: Have Sanders and Harris played their last home game for the Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High?
Broncos general manager John Elway doesn’t figure to deal Von Miller, even though the star pass rusher has been in a sack slump this season. Miller has two more years left on his contract after this season, though, while Sanders and Harris are free agents after this season.
If the Broncos aren’t going to contend – and it sure doesn’t look like they will – why not get a draft pick or two in return for players you won’t have next year, anyway?
Following the Broncos’ 30-6 loss Thursday night to the Kansas City Chiefs, Elway could do each of his stars a favor by moving them to a contending team.
It would especially make sense to move Sanders, who had a solid game Thursday night with five catches for 60 yards. Sanders is wasting his talents, though, with a Broncos’ offense that has become inept on third down in particular and woeful as a whole.
Harris has drawn interest from cornerback-needy teams but after the Broncos won two in a row, Elway wasn’t about to put his best cornerback up for trade.
Elway said last week no player was on the trading block. But that was when his team still had a chance to make a run toward respectability. Now the Broncos are 2-5 and in last place in the AFC West. And it's going to be difficult to win anywhere with an offense that struggles to score two touchdowns a game.
It would be a little more difficult moving Harris because the Broncos’ cornerback position is already dangerously thin because of the injuries to Bryce Callahan and De’Vante Bausby.
Trading Sanders, though, would further elevate second-year player Courtland Sutton as the No. 1 receiver and give more targets to DaeSean Hamilton and Tim Patrick, who could return from injured reserve after the bye week.
Sanders and Harris were both instrumental in helping the Broncos win Super Bowl 50, and both have continued to play at a high level as the team has since slumped to records of, in order, 9-7 in 2016, 5-11, 6-10 and now 2-5. Did they play their last game in front of Broncos’ fans without having a chance to say goodbye?
The trade deadline is 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 29.
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