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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Is it time for Colts to dump Bob Sanders?

December 2, 2009
KEYWORDS Sports Business

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.
 

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