The Denver Broncos released 15 year veteran Champ Bailey today, and he is now a free agent. Reportedly, this move will save $10 million against the Denver 2014 cap. Bailey has been a premier cornerback for many years, first with Washington and then the last 10 years with Denver.
This is big news in New England for the reason that Bill Belichick loves Champ Bailey. Bailey is not quite the shutdown corner he was in his prime, but he is still very, very good and would give New England depth at a position that is in need. Their shutdown corner, Aquib Talib, is also a free agent and will be seeking top dollar. Signing Aquib and Bailey, along with Kyle Arrington, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan and Marquis Cole would transform the Patriots' secondary to a team strength.
My guess is that Bailey would welcome the chance to play for Belichick and would come for an affordable salary. Bailey would also provide insurance in case the Pats fail to resign Talib, and would provide veteran leadership for the young cornerbacks. It would also give Bailey a realistic shot at a Super Bowl appearance next season.
How much does Belichick love Bailey? I don't need to count the ways because the normally tight-lipped Belichick has done that in some extraordinary quotes courtesy of Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post in October 2012:
“I would start by just saying with Champ, to me he’s one of the few corners in the league that really can match up against anybody. He matches up against the Andre Johnsons of the world, the big, strong, physical, fast guys. Then he’ll match up against quick, real good route running, quick receivers, guys like that too. [It] doesn’t really make any difference. You can watch him match up against whoever they want to put him on, whether it’s Mike Wallace or whether it’s Calvin Johnson, through the years; I’m not just talking about this year. At times, he’s been on tight ends, like when he would be on [Tony] Gonzalez back in the day and things like that.”
“So, I think he’s really capable of being physical and standing in there and banging with the big guys. He’s got enough quickness and length with the little guys to match their quickness and give them a problem and stay with them, or if he gets his hands on them and jams them, he can destroy the route right off the bat. He’s a very instinctive player, so he has a good sense of what the guy is trying to do and what their tendencies are and things like that. He’s on a lot of routes just because he’s experienced and he’s smart. I think he can cover, I’d say there aren’t too many corners in the league – it would be hard to think of who the next one would be – who like him could match up as well against any type of receiver. Some guys do well against some type of players and have a little trouble with another type of guy.
“It looks like to me like he does a pretty good job against anybody – on whoever the other team’s best receiver is, if they want to match him up, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. They don’t always match him but at times they will. He can match them or not match them or he can take whoever comes out and do a pretty good job with it. Man, zone, he’s a good Cover-2 corner, he’s a good one-on-one corner, he’s a good zone corner, tackles well, he’s a good run-force corner, he’s pretty much a prototype corner in terms of having a full set of skills, does everything well, plays the ball well, very good hands, but he’s a strong tackler and a good run-force player too.”
These comments are above and beyond anything Belichick usually says about an upcoming opponent which was the case in early October 2012. These are the words spoken in genuine admiration and appreciation of the player and the person, Bailey. It would be a marriage made in football heaven.