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Former Cardinals, Falcons and Patriots safety James Sanders visited Steelers on Thursday

Lost in the all of the Bradshaw hoopla on Thursday was another free-agent visiting the Steelers, from a position with plenty of opportunity for employment.


According to Alan Robinson, Ahmad Bradshaw was not the only player to visit the Steelers on Thursday.

Safety James Sanders was also invited to meet with Steelers executives. Teams do not always sign every player invited to visit, but they rarely invite players they do not hope to sign.

Sanders began his career with the New England Patriots as a fourth round draft-pick out of Fresno State in 2004. He will turn 30 years old in November. During his six season stint in Foxboro, Sanders started 50 games, and appeared in 34 more.

In 2011, he joined the Atlanta Falcons, but was gone after the year. He started six games for the Falcons, and appeared in nine more. In 2012, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals; but as Robinson points out, he saw less than 10 snaps a game. Now, he's an unrestricted free-agent.

While a 30 year old journeyman isn't exactly the fix Steelers fans were hoping for to their aging safety issues. However, Sanders was most likely brought in for his special teams experience as much as his work at safety. Veteran safety Will Allen, who recently signed for a chance to compete for a starting job with the Dallas Cowboys, provided the Steelers a double-edged sword by providing serviceable safety skills, and by being a leader for a special teams unit which left a lot to be desired in 2012.

While Pittsburgh seemed to make little attempt to retain Allen, their allowance for his clean departure was most likely more of a favor. Allen was a starter before coming to Pittsburgh, and had little chance of breaking the lineup with Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu still under contract for 2013. At least in Dallas, he'll have one more opportunity. However, the team will definitely miss his contributions and veteran wisdom. Sanders fits the mold of the role played by Allen, although Allen is considered to be the better safety of the two.

Currently, the only depth behind the team's dynamic duo of Clark and Polamalu, are Robert Golden and Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith. Sanders could either beat out one of the two incumbents for a roster spot, or at least push the youngsters as they prepare for the upcoming season, including any possible impending draft-picks.

No contract offers have been reported, but Sanders won't be demanding big money as a free-agent. He is just looking for somewhere to play. Sanders very well could still find himself on the 90-man off-season roster when training camp opens in Latrobe this Summer.