Former Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders announces his retirement

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22: Emmanuel Sanders #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22: Emmanuel Sanders #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Emmanuel Sanders had a long, productive career in the NFL, but the former Steelers draft pick is finally hanging up his cleats for good. 

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that Pittsburgh Steelers fans were raving over the ‘Young Money Crew.’ If you recall, this was the name that the trio of young wide receivers — Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders — gave themselves early in their football careers. Each of the three proved to have long, productive NFL careers, and the last of the group is finally hanging up his cleats.

Recently, the NFL’s official Twitter account confirmed that Sanders has announced his retirement from the NFL. Sanders was a third-round draft choice by the Steelers all the way back in 2010.

Sanders spent his rookie contract on the Pittsburgh Steelers. In year five in 2014, he signed a three-year contract with the Denver Broncos where his career really exploded. During his first season in Denver, Sanders recorded 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and 9 touchdowns with Peyton Manning at the helm, via Pro Football Reference.

Sanders would finish his 12-year career with 704 receptions, 9,245 receiving yards, and 51 touchdowns while averaging 13.1 yards per reception. Sanders was a two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion with the Broncos. He played on five different NFL teams — the most recent being the Buffalo Bills.

Sanders was part of a historic Steelers draft class

Though Sanders was the receiver the Steelers spent the higher pick on back in 2010, it just so happened that Antonio Brown was a sixth-round draft choice that same year. Sanders was given more opportunities early on, but it was eventually Brown who emerged as the top dog in Pittsburgh (though we all know how that story ends).

While his tenure in Pittsburgh lasted just four years, Emmanuel Sanders would later prove to be part of one of the best draft classes that Kevin Colbert had ever assembled. In addition to landing Sanders and Brown in the same year, Colbert found an All-Pro center in the first round in Maurkice Pouncey. Jason Worilds was the team’s second-round pick in 2010, but he retired after his fifth season with the Steelers despite two very promising campaigns in 2013 and 2014 in which he combined for 15.5 sacks.

It’s very rare for a team to get as many as two players from a single draft class that last a decade in the NFL. Pittsburgh had three from their 2010 class. Surprisingly, Sanders was the last remaining in the league from the Steelers’ historic draft.

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Sanders may have played most of his career elsewhere, but he certainly wasn’t a wasted pick. He was part of some high-powered offenses in Pittsburgh and his career worked out about as well as you could possibly expect from a former third-round pick. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.