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At Home

Posted Feb 22, 2011

Champ Bailey said a number of factors contributed to his decision to stay in Denver. Most importantly, he said, ‘I feel like I’m home.’

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The opportunity to test the open market in free agency is a commodity that many NFL players envy. Having 32 teams vie for your services -- and wage a bidding war -- tends to make a player feel good.

The prospect was "tempting," as Champ Bailey put it.

But when it came down to it, the 10-time Pro Bowler knew all along where he wanted to be.

"I feel like I'm a Denver native," Bailey said. "I'm not from here, but it feels good here. I feel like I'm home. That played a big part in my decision to stay, because I want to help make this city proud."

Bailey and the team agreed to terms on a new four-year contract on Tuesday, and the cornerback will head to the team's Dove Valley headquarters early Wednesday morning to put pen to paper.

The contract is a culmination of negotiations that began during the 2010 campaign and were paused before picking back up once the season came to a close.

"Signing Champ was a top priority this offseason," General Manager Brian Xanders said. "He has shown incredible loyalty to the Broncos organization and this community in his seven seasons with the club. His value on and off the field is immeasurable, and we couldn't be happier that he is positioned to finish his Hall of Fame career as a Bronco."

Bailey said a number of factors contributed to his decision to remain a Bronco, not the least of which was Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway voicing his desire to keep him in orange and blue.

Set to turn 33 this summer, the cornerback recognized that many teams might shy away from negotiating a new contract with a player entering his 13th season, but the Broncos showed no such hesitation.

"It means a lot, because you don't see it happen very often," he said. "But I've got to be honest -- not to sound arrogant or anything -- but I don't come along very often, either. I appreciate the fact that they realize that and they realize how important it was for me to stay here."

Bailey admitted that throughout the process he occasionally thought about the benefits of playing in a warmer climate, or under the bright lights of a city like New York. But then he pictured being around a lot of unfamiliar faces in an unfamiliar place, and imagined he would be "miserable" if his new team didn't perform up to expectations.

And maybe most importantly, he didn't want to leave the Denver fans and a community where he has embedded himself.

"One thing I've learned is the grass ain't always greener," he said.

Now that Bailey has elected to stay "home," he has his sights set on bouncing back from a 4-12 season in 2010.

He said he feels like the team has a lot of work to do, but he's confident in the front office and new Head Coach John Fox, and believes there is enough talent on the team that with a few new pieces, winning "is going to happen a lot sooner than people think."

Already owning the NFL record for Pro Bowls as a cornerback, Bailey's focus is on bringing another championship back to Denver.

"When you talk about awards, things you can take home to remember your career, the ring is the most important thing," he said. "I want to get that ring, and I want to do it here."

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