When I think of the Broncos resigning a player like cornerback Champ Bailey, I imagine a mafia-like discussion around the “family” dinner table. I think of the Broncos top level executives sitting in the dark basement of an Italian restaurant filled with cigar smoke, top-shelf scotch, and faces as serious as a newly elected President taking the oath of office.
There are decisions where peace follows and then there are decisions where chaos ensues. However, it’s not hard to make a decision when you know what your value is.
Champ Bailey is not a dime a dozen, but you already know that. At 33 years old and coming off of his record setting 10th Pro Bowl appearance, Bailey is the one consistent that the Broncos have on defense. He makes quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady question their ability to throw towards the left corner, and he’s a valuable asset in the locker room, mentoring the young CBs on the Broncos’ roster.
It’s hard to remember a time when Bailey wasn’t a Denver Bronco. He spent his first five seasons in Washington racking up some very solid numbers, but it wasn’t until Bailey came to Denver that the entire league took notice of his abilities. The year that the Broncos went to the AFC Championship – Bailey’s second season in Denver – he had 66 tackles, 8 interceptions (2 run back for touchdowns), 1 forced fumble, and 23 pass deflections. Amazingly, the next year he improved upon his numbers while the Broncos’ performance declined as a whole. He improved by 20 tackles and 2 interceptions. Then the rest of the league smartened up and quit throwing in his direction.
Even with the Broncos inability to stop the run over the past couple of seasons, and their inability to pressure the QB last season, Bailey still didn’t give up many big plays. It says a lot when a cornerback can still thrive in a situation where the front seven is weak. I’d love to see what he can do with some help up front.
Not only does Bailey create headaches for opposing offenses, but he helps the Broncos offense in practice on a daily basis. I don’t think there’s a better way for Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton to get better than by practicing against the top corner in the league.
There’s no way the Broncos can put their franchise tag on Bailey because they can’t afford the $15 million that would go into his pocket in 2011, but they do need to make him feel like he’s valued as a Bronco by offering him a significant contract. They need to compensate him for his talent, the hard work that he’s put in over the past seven seasons as a Bronco, and for enduring yet another defensive coordinator/head coaching switch. At this stage in Bailey’s career, it’s hard for a player of his caliber to feel like his team is constantly rebuilding. At this point, he’s thinking long playoff runs rather than slow patch-up seasons.
This decision is easy because the making of this season will be a sum of all the Broncos choices.
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