Champ Bailey apparently was not up to the standards the New Orleans Saints were hoping for when they signed him this offseason.
The 36-year-old cornerback signed a two-year deal with the Saints in April, but he did not survive the final round of cuts before the start of the regular season, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network:
Saints are cutting CB Champ Bailey.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 30, 2014
Bailey is widely considered one of the best defensive backs of his generation after a successful 15 seasons with the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos. He has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro three different times.
His 52 career interceptions rank third among active players, behind only Ed Reed and Charles Woodson.
While he has clearly lost a step at this point of his career, he still expected to play a major role for the Saints defense in 2014. He also knew he could provide veteran leadership, as he explained to Joan Niesen of Sports Illustrated:
Every day, there’s always something for me to talk about with the young guys. I’m always available for them. I always make sure they understand that, and whatever they have for me, I’ll always listen and try to help them. And also, when I see things, I’m not going to hesitate to let them know. A lot of these guys don’t have proven vets, guys that have put in the time. I want to make sure I give them all that I know.
Unfortunately, he could not make the roster after apparently failing to win a starting cornerback job out of camp, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com explained:
If #Saints are indeed releasing Bailey, it's a shame but not a total shock. Probably had to win a starting job since he doesn't play s.teams— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) August 30, 2014
Patrick Robinson will likely become the starting left cornerback, while undrafted free agent Brian Dixon earned one of the final spots on the 53-man roster.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com speculates this could be the end of the veteran's career:
It’s always how it ends. Sadly. RT @AroundTheNFL: That could be it for Bailey’s career. Would be a tough end for such a great player.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 30, 2014
However, Rapoport also notes that Bailey doesn't want it to be:
Asked Champ Bailey's agent Jack Reale if his client wants to continue playing: "Definitely and he is fully healthy now."— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 31, 2014
On the other hand, Lindsay Jones of USA Today hopes he can redeem himself after a disappointing finish to last season:
I really hope Champ Bailey's last game wasn't that Super Bowl debacle. He deserves a better ending.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) August 30, 2014
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus argues he is still valuable to some teams:
Champ Bailey can still play. If his contract demands are reasonably and I needed a CB I'd be on the phone.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) August 30, 2014
It remains to be seen where Bailey will go next, but there are certainly a number of teams in need of secondary help. The Dallas Cowboys or Detroit Lions could become legitimate contenders with some upgrades at defensive back, and the veteran could be a mentor to some of the younger players on the roster in need of guidance.
No matter what Bailey decides to do, he can be satisfied with a brilliant career as one of the best defenders the league has seen in a long time.
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