NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Champ Bailey will get to chase a Pro Bowl record and another Super Bowl appearance with the New Orleans Saints.
The veteran cornerback agreed to a two-year contract with the Saints on Friday, with a maximum value that approaches $7 million, including guaranteed money and a signing bonus in the first year.
The 35-year-old Bailey played the last 10 seasons with Denver after spending his first five in the NFL with Washington. A shutdown cornerback for much of his career, Bailey has made three All-Pro teams and been selected to 12 Pro Bowls. He trails only Hall of Fame end Reggie White (13) among defensive players in NFL history in Pro Bowls.
Bailey’s 52 interceptions are the most among active players, as are his 204 passes defensed. He made the league’s All-Decade team for 2000-09.
“We are excited to be able to add a future Hall of Fame player with the addition of Champ Bailey,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. “His career accomplishments mirror that of his high character, and he’s a very prideful and competitive player who we believe will add to our defense.”
Bailey missed 11 games because of a left foot sprain originally suffered in the 2013 preseason, which wound up being a Lisfranc injury, one of the most painful for an athlete.
He returned late in the season to help the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl, where they were routed by Seattle.
His coverage skills clearly are not what they were in his prime, but he will add leadership and savvy to the Saints’ secondary that is undergoing a transformation following the release of strong safety Roman Harper and the loss of free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who signed with Philadelphia as a free agent.
“I have a little more to my game, I believe, especially mentally,” Bailey said on the Saints’ official website. “I can see things a lot easier, a lot of things come up that I’ve had experience with. That only helps your game. I’m using that to my advantage as much as possible because I know how much you’ve got to be mentally ready for this, as well as physically ready.
“I just like the situation I’m going into because I know these guys are going to be hungry.”
New Orleans also may lose safety Rafael Bush, an unrestricted free agent who on Thursday signed an offer sheet from the Atlanta Falcons. New Orleans has until April 8 to match that offer and keep Bush, but the Saints have been operating with minimal salary cap space, which will only be squeezed further by bringing in Bailey.
A versatile player who saw action on offense, defense and special teams at Georgia, Bailey was drafted with the seventh overall pick in 1999 by Washington. He was dealt to Denver in 2004 for running back Clinton Portis.
BY BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer
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