A full decade after the Broncos traded running back Clinton Portis for cornerback Champ Bailey, the Broncos have released him. Bailey’s agent thinks that, if Bailey hadn’t been such a team player in 2013, he’d still be on the team.
“Champ is appreciative of the 10 years he had there,” agent Jack Reale told Mike Klis of the Denver Post. “It’s unfortunate frankly that he tried to play hurt this year. Because most people with that injury would wind up on IR. But he felt this was a year they were going to go to the Super Bowl, and he was dadgum if he was going to watch that game from the press box or sidelines.” [Editor’s note: I appreciate very much anyone who uses the phrase “dadgum.” It makes me feel less old.]
Reale is referring to the foot injury, ultimately revealed to be a Lisfranc sprain, that Bailey suffered during training camp. He appeared in only five regular-season games, with a mere three starts. Bailey also started two postseason games.
“[H]e tried to get it done,” Reale said. “And unfortunately everybody wants to judge him based on playing hurt. Which is how it goes in the league. Rarely, if ever do you get an ‘attaboy’ if you don’t play as well hurt as you do when your healthy.”
Bailey actually played very well in the postseason, especially in the AFC title game. Thrust back into the starting lineup after Chris Harris tore an ACL against the Chargers, Bailey held his opponents to four total receiving yards.
Bailey would have been cut even if he’d gone to injured reserve. Ultimately, the release happened because the Broncos don’t believe Bailey will be worth a $9 million investment come September 2014, when he’ll be 36 years old. It’s unlikely any other team will feel the same way.
Because Bailey was in the final year of his contract, the move clears $9 million in cap space — putting the Broncos in play for a possible effort to pry cornerback Darrelle Revis away from the Buccaneers, which needs to happen in the next week or not at all.