Bailey, whose NFL future was under speculation coming into Sunday's 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, addressed his plans and made it clear he wants to return in 2014. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bailey noted he would consider a move to safety if asked by the team:
Bailey discusses his future after the Denver Broncos were defeated by the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. Bailey played an instrumental role despite the losing cause, stepping up as a starter once again after Chris Harris went down in the AFC Divisional round matchup with the San Diego Chargers.
The Super Bowl appearance was the first of Bailey’s 15-year career. While he didn’t win a ring, Bailey will still go down in history as one of the most decorated players at his position even if he fails to win by the end of his career. When asked his future plans after the game, Bailey indicated it wasn't in the cards for him to walk away just yet.
"I'm not done playing football," Bailey said, via Matt Walks of the Denver Post. "So I feel like I'm going to give myself another shot next year."
Bailey has taken the time to weigh his options, which include allegedly taking a lot less money and having to overcome bothersome injuries. Denver will almost certainly ask Bailey, due for a $9 million base salary in 2014, per Spotrac, to take a pay cut to return and he'll have to compete for a starting job. At age 35 and with as many accomplishments as he has under his belt, one wouldn't have blamed Bailey had he chosen to walk away.
The superstar defensive back elected against hanging up his cleats after a prolific tenure in the league, a run that includes a record-tying 12 Pro Bowl selections for his position, seven All-Pro nominations, two Defensive Back of the Year awards and being named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and Broncos 50th Anniversary Team.
Where does Bailey rank amongst the league's best corners in history?
The 35-year-old has declined considerably over the past few seasons, playing in only five games and failing to record an interception for the first time his career in 2013. Bailey has racked up 909 tackles, 52 interceptions, nine forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, four touchdowns and three sacks during his 15 regular seasons.
He’ll always be remembered as the premier corner of his era regardless of how next season plays out. At his peak, he was able to lock down the opposition’s top receiver and make plays on the ball anytime a quarterback was foolishly confident enough to throw in his vicinity.
The Washington Redskins selected Bailey with the No. 7 overall pick in 1999 draft, but he only played five seasons with the franchise.
The Georgia product would be traded to the Mile High back in 2003 for Clinton Portis in an uncommon, high profile swap of star players. Portis was forced to retire in 2010 after a series of injuries cut his career short.
According to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Sports in Washington, Bailey called the deal “the best thing” that happened to his career:
Considering it resulted in a Super Bowl appearance 10 years later—the Redskins have not won a championship in that time period—Bailey definitely lucked out. With Denver looking primed for another Super Bowl run next year, perhaps Bailey's return could net him that elusive ring.