The Denver Broncos released Champ Bailey rather than rework a contract that was to pay the 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback $10 million next season.
Bailey, 35, was selected to the Pro Bowl in eight of his 10 seasons in Denver, and Broncos General Manager John Elway said the decision to let Bailey go was difficult because of his contributions to the team and community.
“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,” Elway said in a statement. “His combination of elite talent, class, leadership and competitiveness made him one of the all-time greats.”
Bailey’s release comes ahead of the start of the National Football League’s free agency period on March 11. Bailey told the Denver Post that he wants to keep playing in the NFL.
Bailey has 52 interceptions over his 15-year NFL career and after the 2012 season earned his 12th Pro Bowl selection, a league record for defensive backs and second all-time to Reggie White among defensive players. Bailey was limited to eight games last season -- including two playoff contests and the Broncos’ Super Bowl loss to Seattle -- because of a foot injury suffered during the preseason.