*** UPDATED 6:49 P.M. MST ***DENVER – Champ Bailey is staying in Denver.
The Broncos and the 10-time Pro Bowl cornerback agreed to terms on a four-year contract Tuesday, ending a four-month period of uncertainty that began when negotiations on an extension broke down in October.
“I’m happy Denver wants me. I like it here. The fans are great. I’m embedded in this community. All those things mean a lot to me,” Bailey said on a conference call hours after Broncos executive vice president John Elway announced the agreement via Twitter.
The agreement comes less than 24 hours before the deadline to name franchise players. The Broncos could have used the franchise tag to keep Bailey around for one season while attempting to work on a longer-term deal, but those arrangements are fraught with peril and a high potential for a holdout, as the Patriots witnessed with guard Logan Mankins last season.
WHAT IT REALLY MEANS …
1. THE TEAM’S FAITH IN THE PLAYER. Money did matter; Bailey noted on Jan. 3 that he wasn’t “for sale” and wouldn’t give the Broncos a deep hometown discount.
By giving this length of a deal to Bailey, the Broncos are not only rewarding Bailey for his previous seven years of service to the team, but are showing an expectation of future Pro Bowl seasons to come. While some other cornerbacks such as Rod Woodson have converted to safety later in their careers, Bailey appears set at cornerback, since he hasn’t incurred the kind of position-altering major injury that Woodson absorbed in his ninth season, when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament.
2. THE PLAYER’S FAITH IN THE REBUILDING PROCESS. Money mattered to Bailey, but an opportunity to win mattered more. With a Hall of Fame spot virtually assured now that he’s been selected for 10 Pro Bowls, the only item missing on his resume’ is a Super Bowl appearance.
Bailey wouldn’t have opted to remain with the Broncos if he didn’t believe the team had a legitimate opportunity to get there in the coming years. This move shows faith in the organization — and perhaps new head coach John Fox in particular, since Fox took the Panthers from 1-15 to a Super Bowl in 24 months eight years ago.
“We’ve got great management now,” Bailey said.
A Super Bowl appearance is “pretty much” all that he has left to accomplish, Bailey acknowledged.
“I want to get that ring,” he said, “and I want to do it here.”
3. DRAFT IMPACT. This doesn’t necessarily cross LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson on the list. Some scouts have him projected as a safety, and given the Broncos needs there, Peterson could still be on their radar. If another team covets Peterson as a cornerback, the Broncos’ trade options could also increase.
The Broncos could still perceive a need at the opposite cornerback slot with Andre’ Goodman struggling with hamstring and quadriceps injuries last year and Perrish Cox facing an uncertain future after being charged with sexual assault last season. But with Bailey holding up one cornerback slot, the team could get better value for a potential No. 2 cornerback on the draft’s second or early third day.
No matter what happens at the other cornerback slot, Bailey’s return assures one fewer draft-week need for the Broncos.