By: Rich Bergeron
In NFL News, Champ Bailey will likely suit up for a sixteenth NFL season (1999-2003 with Redskins, 2004-2013 with Broncos) if his meeting with the New Orleans Saints went well this past Tuesday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news proving the Bailey sighting in St. Louis was no April Fools joke. Schefter also added that Bailey has one more visit planned if the Saints can’t offer what he wants.
Bailey’s former team was the first to make major waves in free agency this year, replacing the veteran with Ex-Patriot Aqib Talib at a hefty price tag of $57 million over the next six years. The Saints signed the best safety on the market to their own six-year deal at $54 million, but they still have not pulled the trigger on any new cornerbacks to join Keenan Lewis. If Bailey isn’t a good fit, there are only a few big names left on the free agency list to fill that hole. Terrell Thomas and Asante Samuel could be potential recreuits for New Orleans, but they don’t have as much experience as Bailey. They are also more likely to want long-term deals. Bailey may be more open to a one-year, short-money contract.
Bailey’s age (36) might be a concern to some, but last season was the only one in which he didn’t play at least 9 games. At the same time, injury limited him to just 193 snaps in 2013, and Bailey’s best season was eight years ago. Bailey intercepted a career high 10 passes in 2006 for Denver for 162 return yards and a score. He also recorded 86 total tackles and a fumble recovery.
Bailey may not be the best cornerback on the market right now, but he can definitely come back strong and use the new team background to re-invent himself. Even if he’s only around for a single season, he could help coach the next generation of Saints defenders. The Saints unloaded Jabari Greer back in February in order to make some cap room, and replacing him is something they seem to be hoping to do at a much lower cost.
Bailey’s been waiting around a little too long to expect a premium price at this stage. The draft is a month away, and most teams still looking for cornerbacks would prefer to start young. Bailey can still leverage the one additional visit he’s planning, but not for much. He’ll be lucky to garner anywhere over a million bucks for a single season or a two-plus million dollar deal over two seasons.