Emmanuel Sanders' grandma prayed for Saints signing

March 23 (UPI) — Emmanuel Sanders said his grandma was praying for him to join the New Orleans Saints before he ultimately opted to sign with the NFC South franchise in free agency.

The Saints signed Sanders on Friday to a two-year, $16 million contract. He told reporters Sunday that his family was pushing for him to join the franchise before he signed. Sanders also considered signing with the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys.

“One of the first people I called was my grandma, because she called me when free agency started, and she said, ‘We’re praying you go to New Orleans!’ The Texans, they had an opportunity and needed a receiver, the Cowboys needed one, but my grandma was talking about New Orleans because she loves that team,” Sanders said.

Sanders said that his grandma “loves” Saints quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton.

“Not only that, she’s excited because they can drive to the game if they want to,” Sanders said. “I don’t know how far of a distance it is, but I know last year when [the 49ers played the Saints in New Orleans] I had like 15 family members drive up, so it can’t be that long of a drive. It’s pretty cool to be back down south and be close to my family as well.”

The Texas native went to Bellville High School before starring at SMU. He entered the league as a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Sanders, 33, had 66 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games last season. He appeared in seven games for the Denver Broncos before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October. The 10-year veteran is a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He had three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards from 2014 through 2016. He helped the Broncos win a Super Bowl in 2016.

Sanders should improve the Saints’ offense in 2020 while lining up with star wide receiver Michael Thomas. Thomas led the NFL with 1,725 yards in 2019. His 149 catches last season set a new NFL single-season record. The Saints haven’t had two wide receivers with at least 1,000 yards in the same season since 2016, when Brandin Cooks had 1,173 yards and Thomas had 1,137 yards.

“I’m just going to be me,” Sanders said. “I don’t know exactly what my role on the team will be yet. Whatever it is, I’m going to do the best I can possibly do.”

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