GM Alert: Bob Sanders Really Worth It or Are the Jets Becoming the New Redskins?

No NameContributor IIIMarch 2, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04:  Safety Bob Sanders #21 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after his tackle of Cedric Benson #32 of the Chicago Bears for the Colts to recover the fumble in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

On the surface, the news that the New York Jets are working out 2007 Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders looks like nothing more than a routine business move by Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum.

With free agency really taking a toll on the Gang Green this offseason, the Jets are faced with the reality of knowing that their only experienced safety under contract is veteran Jim Leonhard, who's recovering from a brutal leg injury he faced last season right before the Jets' historic playoff run.

Their other three options at the position (Eric Smith, Brodney Pool and James Ihedigbo) are all free agents this offseason and there's no certainty that the Jets would be able to sign any of them.

So naturally, a Bob Sanders workout seems very reasonable.

But let's take a look at what Sanders has done since his award-winning 2007 campaign. The Colts safety has played in a total of nine games in the past three seasons, racking up a whopping 42 tackles overall.

An argument might be made that he has the potential to be as great as he was in 2007, when he made 96 tackles over 15 games, including 3.5 sacks and two interceptions.

But a heavy glance at Sanders's career stats point towards 2007 being a fluke rather than the past three seasons.

In 2006, the year before Sanders's standout season, what was the result? Injury.

While Sanders has proven he can play, he's also proven that he's good at keeping the medical trainers employed. His free-agent contract won't come without a hefty price and the Jets are in no position to overspend on a has-been superstar.

Or are they?

In the months leading up last year's Super Bowl-or-bust season, the New York Jets put together a star-studded cast of players, a mixed group of guys representing either the aging talents or troubled cases of their former teams.

There was no doubt which New York team was aiming for the lights of Broadway last season, as the Jets brought in future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes. Tomlinson and Holmes undoubtedly proved their worth over the course of the season, and Tannenbaum's risk-taking abilities were applauded.

But risk-taking comes with its consequences, too.

If the Jets end up signing Sanders and there's nothing concrete at this moment that says that they will, they might be taking the unwarranted risk that they've been able to avoid up to this point.

There's no doubt the Jets need to solve the questions surrounding the safety position, but Sanders isn't the answer. His big name would sell jerseys and might put a few more fans in the seat, but his acquisition might do harm than good in the end.

While the Jets' big name signings thus far have been fairly successful, their offseason moves are beginning to emulate the free agency patterns of a team perpetually on the other end of the NFL's success spectrum: the lowly Washington Redskins.

The Redskins and their dictator dressed up in owner's clothes, Dan Snyder, have made a living out of signing high-profile, high-risk free agents and then providing them with a field on which their careers and go and die.

The list begins with the likes of aging stars such as Jeff George ("star" is a heavy word, I know), Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders, continues to the poaching of the entire Jets' 2003 roster (John Hall, Chad Morton and Laveranues Coles) and rounds out with what is probably the biggest failure of Snyder's tenure, Albert Haynesworth's expensive attitude.

The Jets are far from reaching Redskins-like lows, but a Bob Sanders acquisition might begin to carve that path for Tannenbaum and Co. Gang Green needs to start looking for more mid-level talent with higher upsides and less risks.

Only then can the Jets begin to start building a championship caliber team to place around their young franchise quarterback.