I think we can all agree that when Bob Sanders is healthy, he's one of the best safeties in football.
But he hasn't been healthy lately, competing in only nine games in the last three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts. That's why he was released on Friday.
And I'm sure that everyone knows that Sanders will be a hot commodity on the free-agent market.
Even though he hasn't been healthy, the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year will have a few teams chasing him for his services.
Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowler, was taken 44th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Colts. Known as a game-changer, the Colts were always a completely different team on defense when he was on the field.
However, due to his durability issues, Sanders has only played in 10 or more games twice in his career, 2005 (14) and 2007 (15).
He won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, as he registered 96 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions.
But since then, he has rarely seen the field, nabbing 30 tackles, zero sacks and three interceptions in the three-year span.
Now a free agent, there will be teams chasing him. The only question is, "Who?"
Patrick Chung (25) & Brandon Meriweather (31) tackling Braylon Edwards
Perhaps the Colts' biggest rival, the Patriots have already reportedly expressed interest in Sanders.
But with up-and-coming stars Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung at safety, Sanders would immediately be a backup.
Backup safeties Jarrad Page and Brandon McGowan are possible free agents, so if either do not re-sign with the team, it could increase the chances of Sanders playing in Gillette Stadium.
The tandem played exceedingly well last season, so it would be hard for Sanders to get the starting nod. If he did sign with Bill Belichick's Patriots, Sanders would have to hope an injury happens if he wants to start.
That is one problem with the signing, but there is also a very good advantage.
Year after year, the Patriots are among the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
Even though he already has a ring, it wouldn't hurt to have another one, right?
Gerald Sensabaugh (43) intercepting a pass
The Cowboys were absolutely horrendous defending the pass last season, giving up the seventh most (3,894) in the entire league.
It is entirely possible that the Cowboys could draft a safety in April, but I would not doubt head coach Jason Garrett and the rest of the staff taking a shot on a veteran like Sanders, too.
I would say that they need one of two offensive linemen and a backup quarterback, especially due to Tony Romo's durability issues. But after those two, safety becomes the third need.
And not to mention, Alan Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh are possible free agents. Sensabaugh played in all sixteen games last season, posting 71 tackles, two sacks and five interceptions.
He was one of the few bright spots on defense and if he doesn't get re-signed, Sanders' name may be called.
Dashon Goldson (38) & Reggie Smith (30) tackling LeGarrette Blount
The 49ers have to address their depth situation at safety and it should be one of their main priorities.
Dashon Goldson, the starting free safety, is clearly one of their best players on defense, in my opinion. Goldson played well last season, filling up his stat sheet with 80 tackles.
But other than Goldson, their secondary is shady at best.
Reggie Smith is currently the starter at strong safety with last year's rookie Taylor Mays penciled in behind him. Mays didn't show that much last season, but he is still young and needs more time to develop.
Smith is probably one of the worst starting safeties in the league and if Sanders got signed, he should automatically become the starter.
The possible signing of the Ex-Colts would also benefit the young Taylor Mays. Even though Sanders has missed a lot of playing time, he is still a great player and could be a mentor for the former Trojan.
The 49ers, like the Cowboys, were also atrocious against the pass last season, giving up 3,697 yards and placing ninth in the league.
The signing of Sanders would definitely benefit the team, while adding veteran leadership and good ability (if healthy) to an up-and-coming 49ers defense.
Eugene Wilson ,26, Bernard Pollard,31, and Demeco Ryans, 59
The Texans, the worst team against the pass last season, needs defensive help at almost every single position.
The safety position is definitely one of those. Like the 49ers, the Texans have to add more depth to that position.
On Friday, the Texans released free safety Eugene Wilson, who started 14 games last season, while registering 56 tackles for the team.
Bernard Pollard, the starting strong safety, is a free agent this offseason and if the Texans fail to re-sign Pollard, they will be in desperate need for one.
Outside of Pollard, Quintin Demps and Troy Nolan are listed as the other safeties on the roster.
It is entirely possible that the Texans will use one of the early draft picks on a safety in April's draft. But drafting just one safety isn't really going to help them.
They may have to delve into the free agent market, and that's where I believe Sanders could possibly come in. I also think that the Texans would love to stick it to the Colts by signing one of their biggest fan favorites.
From Sanders' point of view, I believe that he would love to play his former team twice a year and show them that they should have kept him.
Odds: 9-1 (with Pollard), 6-1 (without Pollard)
Brodney Pool, 22, celebrating with Mike DeVito, 70, and Kyle Wilson, 20
Rex Ryan's Jets may not be in desperate need of a safety like most teams on this list, but the possible signing of Sanders could just be an insurance policy.
However, Eric Smith and Brodney Pool are free agents this offseason, as both were starters for the team last season. It is entirely possible that both could be retained, but if one or neither is kept, Sanders could be brought in.
The Jets also don't have that much depth at the safety position, with Dwight Lowery, James Ihedigbo and Emanuel Cook filling in the rest of the spots.
New York has been one of the best defenses over the last couple of seasons and Sanders could only signify that.
Just like the Patriots, Sanders would be going to a championship-contending team and could possibly get his second Super Bowl ring.
Teams like the Jets could play a big factor in Sanders' decision.
Eric Weddle (32) and Antoine Cason (20) trying to run away from Kenny Britt
San Diego could be a very likely destination for Sanders.
The Chargers are one of the best teams in the AFC year in and year out.
And to make it even better, the Chargers technically have Peyton's Manning number since the quarterback has come into the league in 1998 (coincidentally, San Diego drafted Ryan Leaf directly after Manning).
Eric Weddle, one of the best safeties in the AFC, could be a great teammate for Sanders. If the ex-Colt could stay healthy, teams may have a hard time throwing on the Chargers.
If the Chargers managed to sign Sanders, the team would immediately have one of the best safety rotations in the entire league.
I think Sanders could start for them and with Weddle by his side, they would have Darrell Stuckey, a potentially great player, and Steve Gregory playing as their backups.
Like the Jets and Patriots, the Chargers are a contender every season. And that may be what Sanders thinks about the most as a free agent.
If the Chargers do indeed sign Sanders, it could work out for the team, as they can use their draft picks on other positions they need such as wide receiver, offensive lineman and linebacker.
This makes perfect sense for both sides. I wouldn't doubt seeing Sanders in a powder-blue uniform this season (if there isn't a lockout, of course).
Griffin (left, #33) & Hope (right, #24)
Tennessee, under a new regime, has seen significant changes so far in 2011 and one could say that they are in the "rebuilding stage."
Particularly known more for the team's defensive abilities than their offensive, the defense, as a whole, was the worst in quite a few seasons.
At the safety positions, the Titans started Chris Hope and Michael Griffin. It is a good combination, but it seems that Hope's abilities have diminished over the last few seasons. He was a missed tackle machine last season, but he still registered 101 tackles, the second-best of his career.
Griffin, one of the better young safeties in the league, is looking to improve on his skills. The signing of Sanders would vastly help Griffin's game as the ex-Colts could serve as a mentor for him.
Like multiple teams on this list, the Titans have depth issues at the safety position. With backups such as Donnie Nickey, Vincent Fuller, Robert Johnson and Nick Schommer, the team significantly has problems with depth.
I'm sure that the Titans would also love to have an ex-Colt on their team, almost just as much as Sanders would like to be a part of the Titans, too.
I would not doubt the possibility of Sanders taking a shot with the Titans, even though they could struggle this upcoming season.
Earl Thomas (#29) celebrating with Colin Cole (#90)
It may not make much sense for the 'Hawks to take a chance of Sanders, but if there's one thing we've learned about the NFL, it's that everything doesn't have to make sense.
The Seahawks used their first selection in last year's draft on Texas safety Earl Thomas. They also used their fifth-round selection on Virginia Tech safety Kam Chancellor.
It is clear that Pete Carroll and the rest of his staff believe they problems with their safety strengths.
Longtime great Lawyer Milloy is also going to be a free agent this year, so they do have a gap strong safety. It is completely conceivable for them to re-sign Milloy, who can be considered one of the most durable players in the NFL (Milloy has missed just six games in 15 seasons).
Seattle could be one of the few teams where Sanders would be able to start, but it is unclear if it is that big of a deal to Sanders.
But as soon as he was released, ESPN's Mike Sando announced that the 'Hawks were one of the initial teams to express interest in Sanders.
Carroll, known as a gambler, could take a shot on him and I wouldn't doubt that at all.
Atogwe (#21) tackling Bears RB Matt Forte
The Rams could be the team that is in most need of a safety.
On Friday, the Rams released starting safety O.J. Atogwe, who has consistently been one of the their best players on the defensive side of the ball. With the release of Atogwe, they are now incredibly thin at both safety positions.
Craig Dahl is now the starter at strong safety, but it is unclear what will happen at free safety. Atogwe is no longer with the team and James Butler and Michael Lewis are now scheduled to be free agents.
So with that being said, they are noticeably thin at free safety.
This could be the Rams' opportunity to use an early draft pick on a safety, but it is clear that they need more than just one safety. The Rams, slowly becoming better and better, will only take a step backward if they do not get help.
The signing of Sanders would benefit them in more ways than one. If St. Louis uses a draft pick on a safety and brings in Sanders, he could use his leadership skills to his advantage.
As stated in the introduction, Sanders has been known as a game-changer when he's on the field. That could vastly help a young team that won the NFC West division last season, along with upsetting the defending champion New Orleans Saints in the opening round of the playoffs.
Look for the Rams to show great interest in Sanders.
Jason Bell (32) and Yeremiah Bell (37) celebrating
Miami possibly has one of the worst safety slots in the entire NFL.
The Dolphins clearly lack depth and talent at the positions, which is a shame especially since they have two talented and young cornerbacks (Vontae Davis and Sean Smith).
The Dolphins will have to make a move if they want to improve their defense. It does not help that they already play in a tough division with the Jets and Patriots (and yes, I'm excluding the Bills—what'd ya'll expect?)
With Yeremiah Bell and Chris Clemons listed as the starters, it gets much worse lower in the depth chart.
Tyrone Culver, Reshad Jones and Jonathon Amaya are the backups, none of which will ever be starters in this league.
Miami used to pride themselves on their defense, but as of late, it hasn't been the same defense. The defensive line is full of journeyman, along with the linebackers being mediocre at best (excluding Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby).
The cornerbacks are good players, but Smith and Davis still need time to develop. The safeties are self-explanatory.
I think that the Dolphins will be very aggressive in the pursuit of Sanders. Look for them to be in contract talks.
T.J. Ward (43) attempting to tackle Thomas Jones (20)
The Browns may not get Sanders, but I think that Mike Holmgren wouldn't mind having the former Iowa star on his team.
Cleveland's losing skills diminishes their chances of Sanders unless they come at him with a humongous offer he can't turn down.
The team has horrible talent and depth at the safety positions like a couple of other teams on this list. Abram Elam and Sabby Piscitelli are set to become free agents this offseason, so they are pretty bad off if they can't re-sign either of those two players.
Holmgren and the rest of the front office drafted former Oregon safety T.J. Ward in the second round last year and they believe that he will become one of the team's best players in the future.
But outside of Ward, it is hard to find any player that could be their starter.
The signing of Sanders would be a smart move, but if they had a winning pedigree, it could possibly be an easy decision for Sanders.
I would not doubt Holmgren attempting to get Sanders to come to Cleveland.
I believe that these 11 teams have a decent chance in signing Sanders, but 11 does not equal one. So, teams are going to have to be eliminated.
I think that Sanders wants to go to a team that he can win a championship with. Also, Sanders may want to go to a team that he can start for and not just ride the bench while he is playing for them.
With that being said, I've narrowed it down to three teams:
- New York Jets (Odds: 6-1)
- San Diego Chargers (Odds: 3-1)
- St. Louis Rams (Odds: 3-1)
Let's face it, Sanders is one of the best defensive players in the league when he's healthy. And when he's like that, any team would be lucky to have his services.
Even though he's missed more games than he's played, I still think that he will play an entire season at some point during his career. But we know now that it will not be with the Indianapolis Colts, so it's got to be someone else.
So... I've come up with who I think he will sign with...
It's not an NFC team... so that rules out the Rams.
The team has a starting quarterback that's been in the league for at least five years... so that rules out the Jets.
...which means the winner is...the San Diego Chargers.
At the end of the day, I believe that the Chargers will take a shot on Sanders and we will see him in a powder blue uniform, the best uniform in NFL history.