Recently, there has been an ongoing argument over who is truly the best lockdown cornerback in the NFL. Seattle’s Richard Sherman has loudly boasted that he is the best, while many point to his division rival, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals as the standard bearer. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, with very few people watching, Joe Haden has established himself as a force to be reckoned with, and Darrelle Revis has turned back the clock this season in New England. However, in this millennium, there is no doubt that Champ Bailey has been the best corner, and one of the best of all-time. A 12-time Pro Bowler and three-time NFL All-Pro with 52 career interceptions, Bailey’s accomplishments are outstanding.
Bailey signed with the New Orleans Saints this off-season but was released before the regular season started and according ESPN’s Adam Schefter will retire, as was announced by Bailey’s agent:
“To play the end of this season and maybe next season, given his opportunities, he could have done that,” Bailey’s agent, Jack Reale told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. “But he decided it was best to move on to those other areas. I think everybody on his team agreed that was a good approach.”
If Bailey has indeed played his last game, Pro Football Talk notes that he could be part of a star-studded Hall of Fame Class in 2019:
“Bailey will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2019, a class that could also include Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed.”
While it is tough to come to grips with Bailey being done in the league, he was truly a lockdown corner during his time, and his run at the top of the NFL can be matched by very few players in the history of the league.
A member of the all-decade team in the 2000s, Bailey is recognized as one of the elite players at his position. Guys like him do not come around too often, and it will be a while before we see someone else on Bailey’s level.