The Broncos will be releasing CB Champ Bailey, according to an NFL source. He was set to earn $9M this season with a cap # of $10M— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 6, 2014
The Denver Broncos will release longtime cornerback Champ Bailey, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora first reported Wednesday night. Minutes later, ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed the report, making the tweets a reality:
The Broncos will be Champ-less for the first time since 2004.
Broncos Executive VP and GM John Elway said he and Champ would sit down and talk about the 12-time Pro Bowler's contract, which was set to end after 2014 and with Bailey due $10 million. Possibilities for those talks likely included a contract extension that would have saved the Broncos some of that cap hit this year and moved Bailey, 35, to either a nickel corner or safety position.
Instead, the two didn't see eye-to-eye, the talks ended, and Champ's release is imminent.
The Broncos gain cap space with the move - they will soon be sitting pretty at roughly $29 million in space. They gain flexibility and options in the offseason. They gain the ability to trade for Darrelle Revis, or sign Jairus Byrd, or hell, even sign Eric Decker.
But they lose a leader.
Adam Schefter reports that Champ won't retired, and thinks the Falcons could be a good fit.
CB Champ Bailey has no interest in retiring at this time, per source. Would make sense for Bailey to finish his career at home in Georgia.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2014
No paycut offered?
It's interesting that Lindsay Jones is reporting that Champ Bailey was not offered a paycut to stay with the team at all. That makes it seem like talks fell apart before they even got going.
Just talked to Champ Bailey. He was not offered a pay cut to stay with the Broncos. He's looking forward to hitting FA for first time.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) March 6, 2014
Not final... yet
While it certainly sounds like we're delaying the inevitable, CBS Denver's Vic Lombardi comes in on a white, orange and blue horse and gives Champ fans the slightest glimmer of hope.
Here's what I know about Champ. His release has not been finalized yet. If he is indeed released, the Broncos will NOT look to re-sign him.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) March 6, 2014
Champ's agent was still negotiating with the Broncos late this afternoon. They don't have to officially release him until next week.— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) March 6, 2014
Still, it sounds like the sides have already made up their minds - especially the side that matters, the Broncos.
After 10 seasons in Denver, Champ Bailey is leaving Mile High.