Is it time for Colts to dump Bob Sanders?

December 2, 2009
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Now that Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has secured Bill Polian as team president through 2012, it appears defensive back Bob Sanders’ future with the team is also secure.

Despite his history of injuries, Polian is in no hurry to peddle (or cut!) the two-time pro bowler. It’s not clear how the Colts coaches feel about Sanders, who has missed all but one game this season, but some fans are getting uneasy about the reliability of the hard-hitting Sanders.

There’s no denying that Sanders is a game-changing defender when he’s on the field. Problem is, Sanders has played in less than half of the regular season games since he was drafted. 
After this season, Sanders will have missed 50 regular season games in his first six seasons, and played in just 46 during that same period. Still, Polian is a steadfast supporter.
When recently asked if he would consider trading Sanders, Polian responded, “There’s an old saying, ‘you never trade a guy who can help you.’”

Polian said to pull the trigger on a Sanders trade, “It would have to be a block buster.”

Sanders is gone for the season, but Polian is confident—based on what he’s seen of the six-year veteran’s re-hab—he’ll be on the field next year.

“I expect him to be back and better than ever in the summer,” Polian said.

Keeping Sanders on the roster won’t be cheap. His salary consumes more than 7 percent of the team’s salary cap. That’s not chump change for a guy who is in street clothes more often than his No. 21 jersey on game day.

Last year, the Colts signed Sanders to a five-year, $37.5 million contract extension. That means, Sanders, like Polian, is locked up through 2012.
The contract also means Sanders—with $20 million of his contract guaranteed—is among the highest paid defensive backs in the NFL. His average annual salary of $7.5 million is nearly $1 million a year higher than Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu. Sanders is getting more guaranteed money than Baltimore Ravens’ all-pro safety Ed Reed.

I don’t purport to know more about football than Bill Polian. After all, the Colts have a 106-55 regular season record since he took control of the team in 1998, and won the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.

But I do know this; If a company hires an employee and they only do what they’re supposed to four out of every 10 times, that company is taking a hard look at the rain that employee is making.
His (or her) bosses will carefully evaluate the type of soaking they’re taking—and the kind of wallop that employee packs during their 40 percent conversion rate.

  • Hello McFly?
    If you could keep him around for half of what he is making now, then I would say keep him. No doubt he is a force on the field. Given his size and the way he plays, he will continue to have injuries.

    Trade him while you can get something for him.
  • You are not Polian
    As long as Polian thinks he can help, you keep don't purport to know more about football than Polian? Really?...if you did not think you knew almost as much, you would not even have written this. You might mention that the Colts are 11-0 without Sanders, Marlin Jackson, Tyjuan Hagler...with Bullitt, Bethea, Powers, Lacy, Jennings. That is Bill Polian, and that is why you don't question his judgement...he admits not every pick works, and if they don't he gets rid of them. If he thinks Sanders is worth keeping around, then he is. Football players get hurt...Polian has the team in a mode where they can plug and play...lots of guys making near the minimum who can actually play. So he can take a few chances...they won last week without Sanders, Jackson and Freeney, all big contracts. Sometimes you have to play without them...Bob has missed a lot...but the organization is responsible for determining whether or not he works hard enough to get back on the field to keep him around, and they say he does so that is it. The team is a model of success...I personally will take their word for it...I know I am not Polian, and I am not going to second guess a guy with his track record about anything.
  • Bob Sanders
    Colts have 20mil already invested. His cap hit next year is not that large. He is not going anywhere...unless of course a blockbuster trade develops.
  • purport this
    Hey Jim, The Colts could use another tackling dummy. Are you available? Do you even know what 'purport' means? Relax, no one is saying Polian doesn't know what he's doing, but when a guy misses 60 percent of his duty, his overall productivity must be questioned. Polian knows that too, but Colt Fan 2 is right, with $20M guranteed, the Colts' and Sanders' future is likely locked. Quite frankly, he's too risky an investment at this point for any other team.
  • Games Played

    You're a bit off on the facts of your article. Bob will have played in 47 of a possible 96 (6yrs x 16 = 96...not sure where you got 86) regular season games in his career. That's 49%. He's also played in 9 of 9 possible playoff games from 2004-2008. Thus, he's played in 56 of 105 possible games including the playoffs. That's 53%. Not great, but far from 40%. 2009 is the one and only time he's been on IR and 2009 will be the first time he's missed any post season time.
  • Fire Angela B
    Using your theory, all the local weather people should be fired too. I doubt they are right more than 40% of the time.
  • standing corrected
    I stand corrected, Fact Check. But my figures show Sanders will have missed 50 regular season games out of 96 by season's end, which by my account show he has played in 46. Still double checking the playoff games, but in the meantime I'll get the post fixed up. Thanks for reading.
    • Please, not Angela
      I begeth you, please, spare Angela B.
    • Not one to quibble over percentages, I am wholly of the opinion that is Polian feels he is needed around here, then he should stay. That man has proven that he can find gold in a lead mine.
    • Games Played
      No problem. I'm a Sanders fan...because he's a difference maker and anyone can see that he's not given a return on investment to this point. It's unfortunate for the team and for Bob. And the Bob hate on most boards is both tired and uninformed. Just wanted to make sure you were reporting the facts.

      Here are the stats.

      Regular Season games played breaks down as follows:

      2004: 6
      2005: 14
      2006: 4
      2007: 15
      2008: 6
      2009: 2

      That's 47 out of a possible 96.

      Playoff games played are as follows:

      2004: 2
      2005: 1
      2006: 4
      2007: 1
      2008: 1

      That's 9 out of a possible 9.
      He will obviously miss this years playoffs.
    • True Question
      No one is questioning what he has produced when he is playing, but he can't produce anything when he isn't even on the field. And even using Fact Check's numbers, that's a big chunk of time to produce nothing. I'm not for the argument of cutting him... but his salary is pretty high now for someone who makes it on the field only half the time. His salary needs to be looked at.

      And Bob Sanders is good... but, in my opinion, that "game-changer" term used for him by so many is losing some of it's luster (wasn't a "game-changer" for the last 2 playoff appearances and obviously won't be this year). So, is he going to continue to be called a "game-changer" based on the 4 playoff games in the Super Bowl run and demand a high salary solely on those 4 games?
    • Tough
      Bob Sanders is so tough he doesn't even have to play to be a difference maker.

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