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Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) watch overtime action against the Kansas City Chiefs during the Chiefs' 30-27 win on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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Schlereth: DT, Sanders both good WRs but ‘anchors’ on Broncos cap

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) watch overtime action against the Kansas City Chiefs during the Chiefs' 30-27 win on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Denver Broncos hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

As the Denver Broncos gear up for a potential pursuit of prized free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins in the next months, questions about how the will afford the gunslinger have started to filter through.

Last week, the San Francisco 49ers inked quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the richest contract in NFL history, setting the bar for what promises to be a hectic offseason regarding the position.

And while those like “Stokley and Zach” co-host Brandon Stokley believe the Garoppolo deal doesn’t necessarily price out the Broncos on Cousins — who’s likely to command a similar contract — it does mean Denver needs to create some cap room if they want to bring in the soon-to-be-former Washington Redskins quarterback.

Among the places where the Broncos could trim salary is the wide receiver position, “Schlereth and Evans” co-host Mark Schlereth suggested Monday morning, with large contracts tied to both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.

“I understand that both guys are really good players,” Schlereth said. “But you get you get into this kind of situation, this scenario, where you’re like they’re both really good players, but at that price tag they become an anchor.”

In 2017, Sanders had the worst statistical season during his tenure with the Broncos while Thomas had his lowest production since becoming a full-time starter in 2012.

Thomas averaged just 5.2 receptions and 59.3 yards per game, bringing in 83 receptions for 949 yards and five touchdowns, while Sanders caught just 47 passes in 12 games for 555 yards and two touchdowns. Pro Football Focus graded the duo as the 64th (Sanders) and 46th (Thomas) ranked wide receivers in the NFL in 2017.

Schlereth maintains each is a talented wide receiver, just not necessarily as talented as their current contracts warrant.

“You probably spent too much money on Emmanuel,” Schlereth said, “and you spent that big money on Demaryius Thomas because you let him get a free agency, and now you’re spending too much money on the value of the production that you’re getting in return.”

In 2018, Sanders will make the $8.25 million in base salary (15th among all NFL receivers per Spotrac.com) while Thomas will make $8.5 million (11th).

“I think you would have to argue, one, are they talented guys? Yes. Are they talented guys that are probably dramatically overpaid at this point in their careers? I think the answer to that, if you’re being honest, is yes,” Schlereth said.

Follow digital content producer Johnny Hart on Twitter: @johnnyhart7.

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