Safety Bob Sanders sparked the Colts march to the Super Bowl last season. ((Darron Cummings/Associated Press))

The defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts made Bob Sanders the highest-paid safety in the NFL on Friday, signing him to a five-year extension worth $37.5 million US.

Sanders, 26, a two-time Pro Bowler, will receive a reported $20 million in guarantees that should keep him in Indianapolis through 2012.

He will average $7.5 million under the new extension, nearly $1 million more than what Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu received inthe deal he signed in July.

Sanders, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent following this season, will also earn more guaranteed money than Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reedreceived in June 2006.

Last season, Sander missed 12 regular-season games but was credited with turning around a Colts' run defence thatallowed a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry. With Sanders's arrival for the playoffs, the Colts managed to shut down the opponents' run en route to the team's first Super Bowl title in 36 years.

This year, Sanders missed just one game, and Indianapolis ranks firston defence against the pass and has allowed a more respectable 3.9 yards per carry.

Sanders, one of the leading candidates for defensive player of the year, has powered the Colts' defence this year.

He's the team's second-leading tackler (123), and has 2 ½ quarterback sacks, two interceptions and forced one fumble.

With files from the Associated Press