DENVER — It’s official: The Broncos released cornerback Champ Bailey on Thursday morning after 10 years with the organization.
The team was set to give the aging captain and 12-time Pro Bowler $10 million next season in the final year of his contract. Instead, Bailey will become a free agent.
“This was a difficult decision for our team with everything that Champ Bailey has meant to the Denver Broncos and this community over the last 10 years,” Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway said in a statement. “Without question, he’s among the best cornerbacks to ever play the game and one of the finest players in the history of the Broncos.
“On behalf of everyone with the Broncos, I wish Champ all the best and thank him for everything he did for this franchise. Champ will always be a Bronco. We look forward to his Ring of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame election in the years ahead.”
Bailey, who came to the Broncos in a trade with the Washington Redskins in 2004, was injured most of last season, playing in only five regular season games as he worked through a foot injury.
Bailey told USA Today on Wednesday night the Broncos didn’t offer him a pay cut to stay. He also said, “It sucks, but at the same time, I have to move on. I can’t dwell on it. I know they’re not dwelling on it.”
Player reaction was full of praise for Bailey.
I'll never forget that speech champ gave us before the Super Bowl.. He was in tears… Salute to one of the Greatest 💯—
Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh54) March 06, 2014
Bailey told USA Today on Wednesday night he will test free agency.
“I just want to see what people will want me to do. My vision is to still play corner, but I’m a little more open-minded about the season I had last year.” Bailey said. “I’m a corner at heart. If a situation made sense to play safety, then I would consider it.”