Denver Broncos will release Champ Bailey, saving $10 million

Frank Schwab

In NFL terms, Champ Bailey was in Denver for a really long time. But, of course, it wasn't going to last forever.

The Broncos will cut Bailey, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported. There was just no way around it.

Bailey will be 36 next season. He was due $9 million. His play had started to slip before the 2013 season, and then he missed most of last year with injuries. Given the choice of keeping Bailey around or saving $10 million in cap space, the Broncos made the obvious call.

That ends a 10-year stay for Bailey in Denver. It was a pretty remarkable decade for him.

For the first few years Bailey was in Denver, after he was acquired from Washington in a blockbuster trade for Clinton Portis, he was the best cornerback in the NFL. In 2006 he had 10 interceptions despite rarely being tested, and barely finished behind Jason Taylor in the NFL defensive player of the year voting that year. In a late-season game at Arizona that year, the Cardinals threw his way just two times ... and Bailey had two interceptions.

He had 12 Pro Bowl selections, the most for a cornerback in NFL history. He's going to the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. And he even had one more big moment last season, starting for injured Chris Harris in the AFC championship game against New England and playing well in the Broncos' win, helping earn his first trip to the Super Bowl. 

The Super Bowl was another story. Bailey, like the rest of the Broncos, didn't play well against Seattle. Even if the team and Bailey wanted to work something out, there was no way to reconcile him being owed $9 million in base salary this season and what the Broncos thought he was worth at age 36.

When Bailey goes into the Hall of Fame he'll be remembered best as a Bronco, even if he decides to continue his career with another team for a few more years. But the Broncos are chasing a Super Bowl and sentimentality aside, Bailey didn't fit their plans anymore, not at his price tag anyway.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!