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Former Colts Safety Sanders: Fan Discussions Continue Following Departure
AJ Macht | Colts.com

Recently released strong safety, Bob Sanders may not be in Indianapolis anymore (for now at least), but there are misconceptions about his departure. While the CBA negotiations continue, it seems safe to assume that it will include a new salary cap. As covered in an earlier story discussing Sanders’ contract, he would have been due nearly $16 million over the next two years. While the Colts are no longer footing the bill for that amount, the perception that the Colts have “cleared cap space” in 2011 by cutting Sanders is wrong.

Sanders would have been paid roughly $5 million in actual salary for the coming season, but he was already due nearly $4 million in signing bonuses in 2011 and 2012. Now that the Colts have cut him, the team will eat the full $4 million this year, including a cap hit for that full amount — assuming there is a cap.

While freeing up a million dollars is helpful, it will only allow Indianapolis to sign a free agent to slightly more than the veteran minimum — or free up a small amount to re-sign their own free agents. Accordingly, the Sanders’ release should not be viewed as an attempt to shave costs this year as much as it might save costs down the road.

If another team is willing to give Sanders a multi-year double-digit million dollar contract, he should take it. Teams like Jacksonville and Buffalo are interviewing Sanders so it is possible that such a contract will materialize, but if he enters the post-CBA period without an offer, Sanders and the Colts may come back to the table to discuss new terms — especially once new CBA rules are set and negotiations can include certainties, not just contingencies.

In fact, it is not unreasonable to believe that the Colts may have released Sanders to better facilitate negotiations. Sanders and his agent may have been unwilling to sign what Indianapolis was offering without first testing the market. Once Sanders evaluates his market value, it may help both sides reach a deal that will satisfy both parties, and allow the team to retain Sanders without taking a $12 million gamble.