The Broncos introduced their newest wide receiver yesterday, but a handful of teams are still fuming about Emmanuel Sanders's free agency, which one burned NFL executive called "one of the worst situations in modern football negotiations."
It was a busy few days leading up to Sanders agreeing to a three-year, $15-million deal with Denver with a reported $6 million guaranteed. According to the report from NFL.com (and please keep in mind this is all coming from one of his scorned suitors), Sanders's agent Steve Weinberg agreed in principle to a deal with the Chiefs. He then took that offer and used it to negotiate with the Buccaneers, without telling Tampa he had shaken hands in K.C. He then agreed to terms with Denver. And somewhere along the line, he scheduled a meeting with the 49ers, but blew it off.
One executive—and it's not hard to guess which team they might be from—vented to Ian Rapaport.
"Totally wrong. This needs to be stopped...When a man gives you his words and pulls out, then gives another team your word and pulls out, then gives another team his word ... not proper."
It's a weird situation only because it's not an unprecedented one. While teams and agents generally operate under the impression that an agreement in principle is as good as a signed contract, deals can legally be negotiated or leveraged up until that paperwork is inked. Sanders's isn't the first and won't be the last situation where teams think they have a deal, only to learn the other side hasn't stopped looking.
(And, you know, shit like the Raiders telling Rodger Saffold he passed a physical, only to go back on that after having second thoughts about his deal.)
So there's some personal venom here, illustrated by the dredging up of agent Steve Weinberg's past. Weinberg was barred and decertified by the NFLPA in 2003 following a dispute with a partner over Stephen Davis's contract. He allegedly moved money into an offshore trust, leaving his clients open to wage garnishing, and at one point convinced Davis to pay him a fee before it was due. Weinberg regained his certification in 2011, but now only has three NFL clients, compared to 43 before his disbarment.
So, someone's righteously pissed at Weinberg. It's up to Sanders to defend the negotiations. At his introductory press conference, Sanders said there was never any deal in place with the Chiefs.
"That entire situation is a business ordeal that some people are turning into a personal matter," Sanders said. "Situations like that happen all the time over the National Football League...There was no handshake. There was no kind of agreement in terms of—we were close to a deal, but it wasn't anything official just yet."