After seven years, two pro bowl appearances, a defensive player of the year award in 2007, a Super Bowl victory and countless injuries, the Indianapolis Colts announced today that they have severed ties with safety Bob Sanders.
One of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL when he is healthy, Sanders has missed at least 10 regular season games in five of his seven seasons with the Colts. He played in the season opening game against Houston this past year but suffered a season ending biceps injury early in that game.
Sanders was due to make $5.5 million in 2011.
He is only 30 years old and can still make a difference on defense if he is healthy, granted that's a BIG if, but someone will most certainly take a chance on him. He will likely come cheap given that he hasn't played in a full game since September 2009.
Here are 10 teams that could give Sanders one more chance to show his stuff on the football field again.
The Colts know better than anyone what Sanders can bring to a defense when he is healthy. The only reason he was let go is because of his salary, so why can't the two sides work out a deal that pays him less money or is based on playing incentives?
It's not like the Colts defense is so loaded with great playmakers that they can just plug in someone else to play safety anyway. Both sides seem to really like each other, so why not?
Jim Harbaugh's first order of business as head coach of the 49ers will be to change the attitude and culture surrounding the team. That starts on defense, and this team needs plenty of help there. They have a good foundation with Patrick Willis and...that's about it. Nate Clements has been a bust since signing that big contract in 2007.
They need some guy who can come in right away and be a big time playmaker in that secondary. If Sanders stays healthy, he can make a difference for this team. Plus, if they add a guy like Patrick Peterson in the draft, which Todd McShay and Mel Kiper seem to think will happen, their secondary becomes infinitely better than it is right now.
The Eagles really struggled with their redzone defense in 2010, and a big reason for that was because their safeties were very weak. Insert Sanders into that defense, and they instantly become much more formidable.
This team didn't have that one guy who could make a play, especially in the redzone, when they needed it. Sanders is a playmaking machine when he is able to play.
The Cowboys had HUGE expectations going into 2010. They were supposed to be the first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium, but as we all know, that didn't happen. They were overrated because of their offense and because they are the Cowboys.
Their pass defense was really weak, they ranked 26th against the pass, and Sanders gives them a tough, gritty player that is missing from that secondary. They still need another pass rusher, but getting help in the secondary will help make them better.
The Bears were so close to getting to the Super Bowl this year. They got to within a touchdown of tying the Packers in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game with their third string quarterback.
The defense is good, but the secondary could use some help. Sanders is great in coverage, which the Bears need help with, and he has great tackling skills, which would help the Bears secondary.
The Lions took some major steps forward in 2010. They won six games, which would be like any other team winning 13 games, and they have found a lot of really good players. Their defense is still missing that one big playmaker in the secondary.
Sanders brings an intensity that the Lions don't currently have in the secondary. They need to find some more playmakers if they want to take the next step in their growth, and Sanders certainly fits that model.
What better way for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots to stick it to the Colts then by taking one of their most beloved players?
Belichick likes to build his defense around younger, athletic players, but he will also take drastic steps to make sure that his team will be the best team in football.
They do have some young guys already at safety, but you can never have too much depth in the secondary. Plus, even with the talent the Patriots have in the secondary, they still ranked 30th in the NFL against the pass last year.
The Falcons were great in the regular season in 2010, winning 13 games and the NFC South. However, they got exposed at the end of the year, first against the Saints on Monday night in week 16 and then in that embarrassing playoff loss to the Packers.
Their secondary couldn't get a stop when they had to, and that ended up being their undoing. They need to do something drastic this offseason if they want to prove that 2010 was not a fluke. A healthy Bob Sanders would be a huge boon to this defense.
The last two years, the Houston Texans have been the chic pick to come out of nowhere and make the playoffs. They have a dynamic offense led by Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. They had the 2009 defensive rookie of the year, Brian Cushing, and an all-pro defensive lineman, Mario Williams. They finished 6-10 in 2010 thanks to the worst secondary in football.
Their defense was completely inept all year, and a big reason for that was the secondary. They gave up over 267 yards per game. They need a complete makeover in that secondary, starting with the draft and signing a guy like Bob Sanders, who will bring an intensity to this defense. He can be the quarterback of the defense, something they desperately need.
The Broncos, once upon a time one of the most proud franchises in football, fell off a cliff in 2010. They lost their best pass rusher, Elvis Dumervil, in the preseason, and that had a ripple effect on the rest of the defense.
They are going to lose Champ Bailey, who isn't happy with the organization, to free agency this year. They gave up the most points in the league by far. Their 471 points allowed was 35 points more than the second place team (Dallas).
This team needs any help that they can get, injury risk or not, Bob Sanders would be a tremendous upgrade over anyone else currently on the roster.