SAN DIEGO - Offensive players facing the Chargers this season cringed Wednesday upon hearing San Diego signed high-profile free agent safety Bob Sanders.

The former Defensive Player of the Year built a reputation with the Indianapolis Colts as one of the hardest-hitting players in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl selections in '05 and '07.

"We are all very excited to add Bob Sanders to our defense," General Manager A.J. Smith said. "We have always held him in high regard. He's a smart, physical, instinctive player. His intensity and playmaking ability can make an immediate impact on our defense."

Sanders (5-foot-8, 206 pounds) agreed to a one-year contract with San Diego and will join a defense that finished No. 1 in the NFL in total defense and fewest passing yards allowed last season.

"There's no question I'm excited. The fact that Bob was available and excited about being here and then having it work out is great," Head Coach Norv Turner said. "Our guys have unbelievable respect for him and what he's done through the years. Certainly he knows what we're capable of doing, so it's a great fit."

The Associated Press made Sanders the fourth safety in NFL history to claim Defensive Player of the Year in '07. Sanders recorded 96 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions that season, a year after he helped the Colts to their second Super Bowl championship in franchise history.

Sanders' physical play has forced him to the sideline due to injuries at times. Most recently he suffered a torn biceps last season on Sept. 12 at Houston and missed the rest of the season. Indianapolis released him last month.

Sanders, 30, hasn't been subjected to many NFL games (48) relative to his age and remains a fierce tackler.

"When you do something like this obviously there's some risk involved but the upside outweighs that," Turner added. "He's healthy and he's excited about the opportunity."