Friday afternoon, the Indianapolis Colts released star safety Bob Sanders. This news likely brought excitement to many NFL fans, as several teams are in dire need of a game-changing safety in the back end of their defense. But, any team that wants to lure the former Defensive Player of the Year to their city should look at Sanders’ past before looking at his potential.
This morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter announced via Twitter that Sanders is in Jacksonville today to meet with the Jaguars. This is understandable, because the Jaguars lack many big name players, which may have contributed to their low attendance throughout the past few seasons. More importantly though is the fact that Sanders comes from a division foe, which could help the Jaguars throughout their game planning two games per year.
It is clear that the Jaguars are not the only team interested in Sanders, as Schefter reported that several other teams are expected to meet with Sanders in the coming days. Teams such as the Bills, Titans, Colts, Ravens, and Rams could all benefit from that former Pro Bowl safety, but no team should sign him without a very extensive physical.
The reason that teams should be very hesitant when considering signing Sanders is the fact that he has never played a full 16 game season in his seven year career. The season that epitomized Sanders’ health struggles was 2010. In the first game of the season against the Houston Texans, Sanders suffered a torn biceps injury, and was eventually placed on injured reserve.
The 2010 season was not the first year that Sanders had injury troubles, as he has only played in 10 or more games twice in his career. One number that should jump out at NFL teams is nine. Bob Sanders has played in a mere nine NFL games in the past three seasons.
So, not only has Sanders struggled with injuries, but if he does play in 2011, he will likely take a while to return to his elite form. Another number working against Sanders is 30. On Thursday, Sanders will turn 30, and if he faced injuries at 25, then he will likely face worse injuries at the age of 30.
It seems apparent that Sanders will unlikely ever be the same player that he was in 2007, but that won’t stop some NFL teams. With all the questions that Sanders raises, the best suitor for him is a desperate team that will take a risk on him. As previously stated, teams such as the Bills and Texans may make a case for Sanders.
The Houston Texans need help in the pass defense more than any other team in the league, which may increase their chances of going after Sanders. On Friday, the Texans released starting safety Eugene Wilson, who struggled mightily throughout the 2010 season. Now that they have a vacant spot in their secondary, the Texans are more inclined to sign Sanders.
Another desperate team that is in need of some star power is the Buffalo Bills. It has been reported that the Buffalo Bills will unlikely bring back starting safety Donte Whitner next season, which would leave an opening for Sanders. With the addition of Shawne Merriman last season, the Bills showed that they are willing to go after injury prone defensive stars, which Bob Sanders is.
Regardless of Sanders’ injuries in the past, there is no question that a team will sign him as soon as they can. Sanders is a game changing player that could anchor any defense IF he is able to stay healthy for a full season. And that is a big IF.