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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Bailey signs four-year contract with Denver

By Bill Williamson

The Denver Broncos have begun their defensive reconstruction by keeping one of the best defensive players in the league. Denver signed Champ Bailey to a four-year contract, keeping him off the free-agent market. Bailey would have surely been a popular player on the open market.

Regardless of Bailey’s situation, Denver is still expected to concentrate heavily on defense in the draft and free agency. The Broncos have the No. 2 overall pick in April's draft and will surely use it on a defensive player. Denver was last in the NFL in total defense and points allowed in 2010.

Even though he’ll be 33 in June, Bailey is still playing at a high level. Denver could not afford to lose him and he was by far the team's top priority in free agency.

This was the first task of the John Elway-John Fox Era, and signing Bailey should show Denver fans that these two are committed to building a winner.

Late in the 2010 season, the Broncos had a deal on the table for Bailey. The team took it off the table at the last minute, and Bailey admitted he was upset by that move. But getting him early in the offseason is a good sign to the rest of the team that Elway and Fox are committed to their best players.

Although the price tag is likely steep, that’s the going market for top cornerbacks. I wouldn’t be surprised if this deal has to be readjusted in a couple years.

I also don’t think the Bailey signing precludes Denver from considering LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. Bailey isn’t going to be around forever, and Peterson is a special talent.

Bailey’s signing could make it more difficult for the Oakland Raiders to keep cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who is the best player in free agency. Now the cornerback market is smaller and there could be more competition for Asomugha.