Mike Klis of the Denver Post is reporting that the Denver Broncos and future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey are deep into negotiations on a four year contract extension, one that will keep Bailey in Denver through 2014 and likely the rest of his professional career.
The reported deal in the works will make Bailey the third highest paid cornerback in the league, and per Klis could "set a standard" for non-quarterbacks age 32 or older. The other two highest paid cornerbacks are Darrelle Revis of the Jets (four years, $46 million) and Nnamdi Asomugha (three years, $45 million).
If anyone on the Denver Broncos deserves a contract renewal, it is Champ Bailey. Bailey has been arguably the most consistent defensive back in the NFL since he entered the league in 1999 with the Washington Redskins, and is widely considered to be a future Hall of Famer. Bailey is the longest tenured Bronco (seven years with the team) and at age 32 is still playing Pro Bowl caliber football.
The Broncos have already dealt big money to guard Chris Kuper, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, and quarterback Kyle Orton this offseason. Apparently, they are not getting overly flustered about a potential lockout in 2011, and the rest of the NFL seems to be following suit.
Just as a few examples, we saw three players on Thursday alone receive big money. Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin, Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson, and New England quarterback Tom Brady were all given big money by their respective teams. Dating back to March and April, we saw Brandon Marshall become one of the league's highest paid receivers. It seems like the expectations were that teams would shy away from doling out huge contracts this offseason, and it's been the complete opposite.
So what does a potential Champ Bailey extension mean?
The major thing that I personally take from this is what Champ Bailey sees in the Denver Broncos. Bailey has spent his entire career essentially in mediocrity in terms of the teams around him, save for about five years with the Broncos where they were consistent playoff contenders but nothing more. If Bailey didn't believe he could win in Denver, he probably wouldn't talk contract extension until after the season.
Then again, you could look at this as insurance. Bailey is going to be 33 next offseason, one that includes a potential lockout. Bailey is smart enough to realize that injuries happen in the NFL, and he is not immune. If he gets hurt in 2010, there is no way a team is going to pay him the kind of money he deserves on the open market next year. I shouldn't say "no way," because I've seen far weirder things happen in free agency, but you get my drift.
So why four years? If this deal is simply for job security and financial stability (not that Bailey is underpaid by any means), then why would he sign on for more than simply a 2011 contract extension? That's where age comes into the equation.
Regardless of what we speculate, Bailey obviously believes on some level that at some point in the next four years, the Denver Broncos can contend for what he wants most from his NFL experience--A Super Bowl title.
Does that necessarily mean the Broncos are bound for the Super Bowl in the next four years? Certainly not. We would like to believe so as Bronco fans, but just because our best player believes it, and truly believes it, doesn't make it true.
But it doesn't hurt.
Look folks, when Champ Bailey speaks, I don't care who you are, where you've been, what you have accomplished in football--people listen. This move is a testament not only to the current Broncos regime of Josh McDaniels and Brian Xanders, it's a clear message to Bronco nation as a whole.
I can almost guarantee without a shadow of a doubt that Champ Bailey believes in this team for the short term as well as the long term. If and when he signs his final NFL contract (and this will likely be the last big one), he knows he's past the point of no return.
If you were to put together a team of the best players from 1999 to 2010, Champ Bailey would be a starting cornerback, no question. The fact that he believes in the Denver Broncos speaks volumes. The fact that the Broncos are working out all these deals speaks volumes also to the current situation of the CBA, which we all know expires at the end of this season.
This signing further proves the Broncos' optimism that not only will we have football in 2011 and beyond, but it proves that this team has a very strong belief in itself to win, and win soon.