February 22nd, 2011 with 2 comments

Bailey, Broncos Agree on Four-Year Deal

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*** UPDATED 6:49 P.M. MST ***

Champ Bailey

BAILEY: ... staying put.

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.

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February 17th, 2011 with 1 comment

Elway Wants Bailey Back, But Will That Be Enough?

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Champ Bailey

BAILEY: ... Elway says Broncos want him back.

DENVER – With the franchise-player deadline looming on Feb. 23 the Broncos confirmed Thursday that they have re-instituted negotiations with cornerback Champ Bailey on a contract.

The talks had broken off four months earlier.

Among a series of Tweets on Thursday morning, executive vice president John Elway declared, “We want Champ to finish his Hall of Fame career as a Denver Bronco.”

“We’ve been working with Champ Bailey’s representative this week on a new contract, which is an important priority for us,” Elway tweeted.

“Our conversations have been constructive, and we’ll continue those talks in the hopes that we can reach an agreement.

“Champ’s an elite player who means a great deal to our entire organization and our fans.”

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February 10th, 2011 with Comments closed

Thomas Tears Achilles Tendon; Recovery 6-8 Months

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Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas, shown here during 2010 training camp, saw his injury woes continue Thursday. (PHOTO: MAXDENVER.COM)

DENVER – Demaryius Thomas’s injury woes haven’t stopped.

The 2010 first-round pick tore an Achilles tendon during a workout in Georgia on Wednesday, per reports from KCNC-Ch. 4.

The Broncos posted on their Twitter feed that Thomas’s recovery could take six to eight months, which would place his return somewhere between the middle of training camp and mid-October.

“I have no doubt that Demaryius will overcome this setback,” Broncos head coach John Fox said in a statement.. “He’s proven he can handle adversity and will get through this. We look forward to getting Demaryius back on the field as soon as possible.”

Assuming there is a 2011 season, the Broncos could place Thomas on the physically-unable-to-perform list during training camp, which would allow them to save a roster spot until he was completely ready to return.

In the last 12 months, Thomas has grappled with injuries to his left foot and ankle. The injuries kept him out for half of organized team activities, the entire preseason and six regular-season games — five because of the ankle problem.

Thomas’s injury comes less than a week after wide receiver Eddie Royal underwent hip surgery. Their injuries could compel the Broncos to keep their deep wide receiving corps together; they still have Pro Bowler Brandon Lloyd, second-year veteran Eric Decker and Jabar Gaffney on the roster and are expected to get a fully healed Matthew Willis back for next season.

But that’s of no consolation to Thomas, who will lose offseason work for a second consecutive season.

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February 5th, 2011 with 3 comments

Sharpe Called to the Hall

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Shannon Sharpe’s wait is over.

After being a finalist the last two years, Sharpe was selected as one of the seven inductees to this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Sharpe is the fourth player selected based upon his accomplishments with the Broncos. All four have been selected since 2004, beginning with John Elway. Sharpe is also the third Bronco in the last four classes to earn enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, joining Gary Zimmerman (2008) and Floyd Little (2010).

The induction is a worthy commemoration for a career that saw him retire as the all-time leading receiver at his position with 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns. Each of those three standards has since been surpassed by Tony Gonzalez of the Chiefs and Falcons.

Sharpe was inducted in his third try. Only one of the other seven tight ends in the Hall of Fame had a shorter wait time: San Diego’s Kellen Winslow. Winslow, Sharpe and Ozzie Newsome are the only tight ends in the Hall of Fame who did not have to wait for at least a decade after becoming eligible for induction.

“I am thrilled for Shannon Sharpe on his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Broncos executive vice president John Elway said in a statement. “It’s great to see another Bronco in the Hall of Fame and part of the club. It’s a well-deserved honor, and I’m proud of him.

“This caps off a tremendous football career by a guy who truly was self-made and worked his tail off to become one of the best players in the history of the NFL.”

Elway and Sharpe were teammates for eight seasons, from 1990-98. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen ran the team for Sharpe’s entire Denver career, which also included the 1999, 2002 and 2003 seasons.

“Shannon was a key leader on our back-to-back Super Bowl teams who set the bar for which all tight ends are measured after his record-setting career,” Bowlen said in a statement. “He had such a presence in our locker room, and his work ethic was unmatched. I really enjoyed my personal relationship with him when he played here. Shannon is a winner in every sense of the word and was a big part of some of the best years in Broncos history. He belongs with football’s elite in the Hall of Fame.”

Sharpe will be part of a seven-man class to be inducted in August that includes defensive end Richard Dent, linebackers Chris Hanburger and Les Richter, cornerback Deion Sanders, running back Marshall Faulk and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol.

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February 4th, 2011 with 3 comments

Sharpe: He’ll Be a Hall of Famer, But Maybe Not This Year

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It would be nice to say that Shannon Sharpe’s candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a slam dunk. But the last two years have proven that not to be the case.

There remains no doubt that Sharpe, the league’s all-time leading pass-catcher among tight ends, will be enshrined in Canton at some point. But once again, others might have a better case this year among the 15 regular candidates (not including the two seniors candidates, who are voted on separately).

The basic problem for Sharpe is that there might not be enough room this year. Two seniors committee nominees, two likely first-year inductees, plus a contributor with heavy sentiment in his corner (Ed Sabol) and an offensive or defensive lineman could leave Sharpe scrapping for the final spot with Tim Brown, Andre Reed and Cris Carter, two of whom have been eligible longer than Sharpe.

Realistically, Sharpe’s chances this year are probably at about 45 percent.

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