Atlanta Falcons: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time

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Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

WR. (2016-Present). Mohamed Sanu. 15. player. 44.

Mohamed Sanu was a former high school quarterback before playing his college ball at Rutgers. After three years playing for the Scarlet Knights, Sanu would be a third-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Sanu joined the Bengals at a good time, as Cincinnati was coming off a playoff appearance in 2011. The Bengals would make the AFC playoffs all four years Sanu played wide receiver for them from 2012 to 2015. After completing his rookie contract with Cincinnati, he would hit 2016 NFL free agency.

That spring, Sanu signed a five-year deal worth $32.5 million to join the Falcons’ offense. The idea was that Sanu would be a strong possession receiver that could help take some pressure off superstar wideout Julio Jones, as well as somewhat replace the production of an aged Roddy White.

Right away, Sanu would fit right in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The 2016 Falcons offense was one of the most prolific in NFL history. It carried this 11-5 NFC South championship squad all the way to Super Bowl LI, where Atlanta fell to the New England Patriots in overtime in Houston.

Sanu had 59 catches for 653 yards and four touchdown receptions in his first year with the Falcons. He had a huge game-winning touchdown grab to help beat the Green Bay Packers at home during the regular season. It may not have been the signature play of the season, but it was Sanu’s best touchdown grab of his Falcons career thus far.

Through three seasons in Atlanta, Sanu has 192 catches for 2,194 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches. All three of those totals eclipse what he had in four years in the Queen City playing for the Bengals.

While Sanu is clearly playing third fiddle at wide receiver for the Falcons entering 2019 behind Jones and second-year pro Calvin Ridley, he is a guy that quarterback Matt Ryan can lean on to make the big catch, to move the sticks, or to come up with the crucial grab in the red zone for six points.

Let’s not forget that Sanu can both sling it and run it out of the Wildcat offensive package for the Dirty Birds. Overall, Sanu may never get the credit he’s due for his time with the Falcons. That being said, Atlanta doesn’t win the NFC in 2016 or make it back to the NFC playoffs in 2017 without him.