It’s safe to say that Champ Bailey’s NFL career is nearly at an end. Between getting smoked by Torrey Smith in 2012 playoffs and spending most of the 2013 campaign on the sideline, the seasoned veteran’s tank is running on empty.
Still, the New Orleans Saints took a calculated risk on Friday by signing Bailey to a two-year, $7 million deal.
While Bailey showed prior to the 2012 postseason letdown that he can still be a capable cover man, the 16-year veteran simply isn’t healthy – or fast – enough to be an effective cornerback in New Orleans. Last season, Bailey missed 11 games due to a foot injury, suffering a couple of setbacks throughout the year. Even when he was healthy enough to play, he was generally unreliable.
Don’t expect much different from Bailey during his time with the Saints. He’ll likely play exclusively in nickel and dime packages, serving more as depth than anything else. If they do choose to get him significant snaps in base sets, the Saints will have to designate a safety to play over the top of Bailey at all times.
What Bailey can bring to New Orleans, though, is a veteran presence. Starring sophomore Kenny Vacarro and the relatively-young Jairus Byrd and Keenan Lewis, the Saints feature little in terms of veteran leadership. Having Bailey in practices, meeting rooms and huddles will certainly help lasso in the young secondary.
Still, I will offer a bit of optimism. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is a mastermind when it comes to utilizing his available players. If there’s any coach who can return Bailey to relevance, it’s Ryan.
Barring some miracle, Bailey’s NFL career will be over by the time his two-year deal with the Saints comes to an end. Any hopes of a revival should be shot down to temper expectations.