Now that the NFL Combine has passed, all of the attention focuses in on the labor talks as the current NFL CBA will expire at 11:59 pm tonight. While almost everyone is focusing in on whether a new deal will be in place, there are several free agents, with value, that look to find a home for whenever there is a new CBA and former Indianapolis Colts Safety, Bob Sanders, is one of the most intriguing names on the top of that list.
Several teams have shown interest in the once dynamic strong safety, including the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, in which he passed a physical of the latter. Sanders is an intriguing player because just four years ago in 2007 he won the NFL Defensive player of the year award and along with Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, was mentioned as one of the top safeties in the NFL.
Back then it seemed impossible that any team wouldn't be salivating over the possibility over acquiring Sanders. However, after the 2007 campaign, his career was sidetracked with injuries as he’s only appeared in 9 games over the past 3 years. So the question arises, does anyone take a chance on him? He was one of the best at what he did when he did it, but he hasn't been able to do it consistently for almost for 3 straight.
Rex Ryan, the head coach of the New York Jets, is currently dealing with this dilemma. Ryan has taken the Jets to the AFC Championship games in both of his first 2 years with the team and has proven that he's not afraid to look for the missing piece, to get him over the top in a veteran savior. Ryan signed Jason Taylor and Ladainian Tomlinson, in hopes that they would come in and get them to that next level.
Now, Ryan is giving a tryout to Sanders. I think it's a brilliant move. The Jets could get Sanders on the cheap and also has insurance given with the quarterback of his defense, Jim Leonhard coming back from injury. There's several other reasons why this could be a perfect fit.
When Leonhard went down with a season ending injury, the Jets put Eric Smith into the starting role. If you recall the Jets faced the New England Patriots in the next game and received, by far their biggest blow out of the season. Smith got much better as the season went along but isn't on the same level as Leonhard or what Sanders once and possibly still is.
Bob Sanders wouldn't have to carry the weight of the secondary on his shoulders as he did in Indy. He could split time with Leonhard and he would also be playing with the best defense he's ever been around. Sanders had to do everything in Indy, in New York; he would have Darrelle Revis and possibly Antonio Cromartie at the corners. Sanders would also be playing behind a 3-4 front instead of the 4-3 run in Indianapolis. The linebackers that the Jets play with would do the blunt of the dirty work and Sanders wouldn't have to feel as if he had to make every tackle, he could just rely on his physical ability and let the game come to him.
When you break down the risk / rewards, the Bob Sanders acquisition in New York, simply makes more since than anywhere else. The Jets have contingency plans in place, they wouldn't have to pay him a huge contract, and if it works and Sanders is back to his old form...what would be better than a Rex Ryan led Jets defense with “Revis Island” being protected by a "Hitman".
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock