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WR Mohamed Sanu A New Falcon

Multi-purpose player agrees to a reported five-year deal with Atlanta.

Unrestricted free-agent wide receiver Mohamed Sanu is done as a Bengal.

That makes two Cincinnati receivers heading to the exits this offseason, leaving Pro Bowler A.J. Green as the only receiver on the roster who had more than two catches last season.

Hours after receiver Marvin Jones received a reported $40 million over five years to leave the Bengals and join Detroit, Sanu followed suit, taking advantage of some major overpaying by teams operating within the constraints of a thin receiver market.

Sanu, a third-round draft selection in 2012, has agreed to a reported five-year deal with Atlanta, according to the Falcons and Sanu.

"Thankful and blessed to be an Atlanta Falcon. Will forever be Grateful to the Bengals," tweeted Sanu, who made $1.542 million in base salary in 2015.

The loss of Jones and Sanu will have an immediate impact on the Bengals, who are letting their top two receivers walk instead of overpaying them, and potentially upsetting what has become a stable locker room. Instead, they will take the extra compensation picks next year, and focus on selecting a receiver in either of the first two rounds in April's NFL Draft, and probably another receiver in the later rounds.

The Bengals focus on signing their own players because they have been burned repeatedly in free-agency, and they prefer stockpiling compensation picks as a subtle factor to their ongoing success, resulting in five straight playoff appearances.

That will be the case in the aftermath of losing Jones and Sanu, the latter of which the Bengals didn't want to pay starter's money because of too many drops when Sanu started and disappearing acts when he did not.

With the departure of Jones and Sanu, the Bengals need to replace a combined 98 catches and 1,210 yards from last season. Should the Bengals eschew signing a free-agent receiver, which they are expected to do, they will have a total of three NFL catches in 2015 on the 2016 roster after Green. Brandon Tate, re-signed Friday, had two catches last season and rookie slot receiver Mario Alford had one. James Wright had five catches as a rookie in 2014, but he missed all of last season due to injury.

There are red flags with Jones, which is why his signing price became prohibitive for the Bengals. Jones has missed 21 games in four years while averaging 58 receptions, 764 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two healthy seasons. He crawled into head coach Marvin Lewis' doghouse twice last offseason as the coach questioned Jones' desire to get back on the field after missing all of 2014 with foot and ankle injuries.

Jones returned in 2015 and looked to be back to full speed while starting a career-high 13 games and playing in all 16. He had just eight starts after his first three years in the league, but he finished 2015 with a career-high 65 catches for a career-best 816 yards (12.6 average) with four touchdowns. He caught 10 TD passes in 2013. But, after coming into the league in 2012, Jones has yet to reach 1,800 career receiving yards or 16 TDs because of injuries and playing second fiddle to Green. He surpassed 100 career receptions just this past season.

If Jones were to inherit a No. 1 receiver role, he could struggle against elite cornerbacks. As a No. 2 receiver, he can take advantage of those who aren't as gifted with his speed, athleticism and proficiency in the red zone. He has good hands, an extra gear, he can be elusive and he's just 25 years old. But, Jones has been living off Green's greatness his entire time in Cincinnati, and he has struggled when Green hasn't been on the field.

The jury's out on how effective Jones would be while working with a lesser talented No. 1 receiver, and that will be the case in Detroit. Caveat emptor.


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