Broncos trying to keep Bailey from bolting

ENGLEWOOD — John Elway says the Denver Broncos are trying to re-sign perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey four months after the team withdrew an extension offer he was about to sign.

In a series of tweets today, the Broncos chief of football operations said the team is engaged in constructive conversations with Bailey’s representatives about keeping the 32-year-old star in orange and blue.

The Broncos are not planning to use their franchise tag on Bailey because that would cost them about $15 million in guaranteed salary next season. If they don’t sign him to a new deal, Bailey would become an unrestricted free agent when a new collective bargaining agreement is hashed out.

Bailey just completed his seven-year, $63 million contract with a 10th Pro Bowl berth, a record for cornerbacks.

New coach John Fox’s massive makeover of Denver’s deficient defense would be much easier with Bailey as the cornerstone. But Bailey is putting his Littleton home up for sale, which could be a sign that he’d rather join a team that’s closer to contending for a championship.

“We’ve been working with Champ Bailey’s representative this week on a new contract, which is an important priority for us,” Elway wrote on Twitter. “Our conversations have been constructive, and we’ll continue those talks in the hopes that we can reach an agreement. Champ’s an elite player who means a great deal to our entire organization and our fans. We want Champ to finish his Hall of Fame career as a Denver Bronco.”

The Broncos may already have blown that chance, however.

Bailey was close to signing a four-year extension for more than $40 million in October when the Broncos suddenly pulled the offer, concerned about his age and the league’s labor uncertainty.

That means Bailey, who’s coming off one of his better seasons in Denver, stands to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

Bailey joined the Broncos in 2004 when former coach Mike Shanahan traded running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins in a rare swap of blue chip talent.


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