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Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Champ Bailey helps Johnathan Joseph

By James Walker
ESPN.com

On Tuesday the Denver Broncos signed veteran cornerback Champ Bailey to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth $43 million. The deal will serve as a measuring stick in the Cincinnati Bengals' negotiation with pending free-agent Johnathan Joseph.

Bailey
Bailey
Joseph
Joseph
Bailey's deal proves how expensive it is to keep good cornerbacks. At 33, Bailey is no longer considered an elite, shutdown corner. But he's still solid and commanded an average of just under $11 million per season from Denver.

The timing of Bailey's deal helps Joseph more than it helps the Bengals. Joseph, like Bailey, is not in the category of Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha but fits somewhere in that next tier.

If Bailey is worth $11 million per season, you have to believe Joseph's representation feels their client is worth $8-$10 million per season. Over the past two years Joseph, 26, has more interceptions (nine) than Bailey (five) and is seven years younger.

Would the Bengals be willing to pay that much to keep Joseph? Based on Cincinnati's history with free agents, it's questionable. Cincinnati also signed cornerback Adam Jones to a team-friendly, two-year contract in 2010 for insurance.

Cincinnati is not expected to use the franchise tag, because it's projected to cost $14 million for cornerbacks in 2011. Therefore, Bengals have less than two weeks to work out a deal with Joseph before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.