The Denver Broncos released cornerback Champ Bailey Thursday instead of paying the veteran $9 million to return another year. Bailey is regarded as one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game and will likely to be inducted to the Hall of Fame when he is eligible. But Bailey says that day will not come soon as he wants to continue playing; even if it means switching to safety: "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. I'm a corner at heart. If a situation made sense to play safety, then I would consider it."
Bailey is coming off his worst season in his 16-year career. Nagged with a foot injury, Bailey sat on the bench the majority of the season starting only three games. That being said, Bailey has 52 career interceptions and has been selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times. With the Raiders potentially losing three starters in their secondary: Charles Woodson, Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins, should the Raiders make Champ Bailey an offer?
Charles Woodson is scheduled to become a free agent on March 11 leaving a hole in the Raider's secondary. Woodson has expressed interest in resigning with Oakland all year long. But in a recent interview with SiriusXM Sports Radio, Woodson said he is considering retiring: "If the right numbers don't come across for myself and from the team standpoint, it's a serious consideration, at this point, that I could've played my last season in the NFL."
At 37, Woodson is quickly aging, but that did not hurt his production last year. While playing in almost every defensive snap for the Raiders, Woodson had 96 tackles (a career high). He also recorded two sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Although Woodson is two years older than Bailey, he does not play like it. Against Jacksonville, Woodson saved a touchdown when he flew over an Offensive Lineman to tackle Maurice Jones Drew.
Charles Woodson Flying Tackle on Maurice Jones Drew. Didn't have audio so I improvised. (via YOGIx213)
While Woodson is past his prime, he is a better option than Bailey.
If Woodson chooses to retire, the Raiders should still avoid signing Champ Bailey. Rather than overpay a player who is making money off his name, the Raiders could sign Jairus Byrd. While the Bills were expected to resign Byrd, multiple signs suggest the Bills are going to let him hit the market:
If the Raiders have the intention of using Bailey as a cornerback, there are many better options in free agency that the Raiders could pursue including Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis and Tracy Porter. Verner and Davis are both cornerbacks that are in their prime that have shown plenty of potential. Aqib Talib has injury concerns but when healthy, is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Porter started for the Raiders last year and was their best corner. All four options would provide better value than an aging Champ Bailey.
While Champ Bailey is one of the all time greats, he is coming off a foot injury that sidelined him almost the entire season. Because of his previous achievements, Bailey will be asking for a lot of money (he wanted $9 million from Denver). But instead of overpaying Bailey, the Raiders target players that could provide better value in free agency. If the Raiders are searching for a safety, they could sign Charles Woodson back for cheap, or target a star caliber safety in Jairus Byrd. If the Raiders are looking for a cornerback, Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis and Tracy Porter would provide better value than the aging Bailey.