As reported in several sources late today, including the Denver Post and Yahoo Sports, the Denver Broncos abruptly pulled their initial contract extension offer to perennial Pro Bowler and future Hall of Fame CB Champ Bailey from the table. This supposedly caught both Champ and his agent, Jack Reale off guard.
"Apparently there won't be any further discussions about Champ's contract until at least after the season. This is not our choice. This is a choice by the Broncos. We'll respect that and move on if we have to," Reale said.
Some think it is because of Champ's age (32) and the potential that they may want to sign him to a Safety contract rather than as a shutdown CB. His current contract is for $9.5 million annually and that is way over a salary range for a safety.
"I am disappointed because I want to be here,'' Bailey told Mike Klis of the Denver Post. "We know that, they know that. What's the issue here, really?''
Well, obviously the issue is money. Lots of money. And to my mind, Mr. Bailey is earning every penny he is being paid. He still can shut down other teams' No. 1 WRs, as witnessed in his taking Colt's Reggie Wayne virtually out of the game earlier this year.
He still is one of the biggest hitters in the NFL, not just from a CB perspective but from any position on the field. I can't remember more than a few missed tackles in his seven years in a Bronco uniform.
And he brings another very tangible value to this team: Leadership! Along with fellow graybeard, S Brian Dawkins, these two drive the defense to play above their individual talents. And that is one of the reasons Denver is currently 2-2, and not 0-4.
But maybe there is another value that is a bit more intangible and harder to measure. And that is class. Champ has always had it and always will. He is a devoted family man, quietly gives to the community and has never embarrassed this team or the city of Denver.
I don't know what will happen at the end of this year and whether Bailey will or won't be back next year. But I do know one thing, no matter what, he will bring it every play, every down in every game the rest of this season.
That is a hard cold fact and something that can't be said for all the players on this team.
No matter what happens, I will always be proud that Champ wore Bronco Blue (and orange) and allowed us to watch greatness in motion.