Gray Caldwell of DenverBroncos.com released a statement a few minutes ago that the Denver Broncos have released 15-year NFL veteran cornerback Champ Bailey. GM John Elway had this to say about the 12 time Pro-bowler:
“This was a difficult decision for our team with everything that Champ Bailey has meant to the Denver Broncos and this community over the last 10 years. Without question, he’s among the best cornerbacks to ever play the game and one of the finest players in the history of the Broncos. You couldn’t ask for more in a player than what Champ brought to this team. His combination of elite talent, class, leadership and competitiveness made him one of the all-time greats.
On behalf of everyone with the Broncos, I wish Champ all the best and thank him for everything he did for this franchise. Champ will always be a Bronco. We look forward to his Ring of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame election in the years ahead.”
Bailey was due a $1M roster bonus on March 15, and the move saves the Broncos $10M in cap space. Bailey played with a nagging foot injury all season which held him to only 5 regular season games. He returned to play in the Super Bowl but was not particularly effective. Denver decided to free up some space for their younger corners, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris, who both happen to be free agents.
Champ will be 36 before the start of next season, but he is not planning on retiring just yet. Bailey on being released and his future via USA Today:
“It sucks, but at the same time, I have to move on. I can’t dwell on it. I know they’re not dwelling on it, I just want to see what people will want me to do. My vision is to still play corner, but I’m a little more open-minded about the season I had last year. I’m a corner at heart. If a situation made sense to play safety, then I would consider it.”
Bailey has 52 interceptions in his long career and had a reputation for durability before this past season. It may be hard for him to find a new team that is willing to make him a #1 corner after the season he just had. However, as one of the best corners to ever play the game, he will be an invaluable asset to any team with young corners that need a leader or teams that need some extra corner help to get over the hump.
Where do you think Champ Bailey will land for next year?