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Champ Bailey: 'I’m going to try to be a part of something special'

Posted Apr 4, 2014

Cornerback excited for opportunity with Saints

champ bailey

First in free agency, the New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with the best safety on the market, Jairus Byrd, a current Pro Bowler.

Most recently, on Friday, the defensive backfield got better and deeper when the Saints agreed to terms with one of the best cornerbacks in league history, likely Hall of Famer Champ Bailey.

The 35-year-old Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler with 52 career interceptions, agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Saints, allowing him to join the likes of Byrd, cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Kenny Vaccaro in the Saints' secondary.

“I have a little more to my game, I believe, especially mentally,” Bailey said. “I can see things a lot easier, a lot of things come up that I’ve had experience with. That only helps your game. I’m using that to my advantage as much as possible because I know how much you’ve got to be mentally ready for this well, as well as physically ready.

“When you have a lot of young, energetic guys that want to prove that they belong in this game and prove that they’re one of the best – you’ve got a young Kenny Vaccaro, how much is Jairus Byrd going to help him? How much can I help them? How much can they help me? I just like the situation I’m going into because I know these guys are going to be hungry and we can all be biting each other’s style as far as what it’s going to take to be great. And I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Bailey, a 15-year NFL veteran and member of the 2000’s NFL All-Decade Team, originally was selected by the Washington Redskins with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft out of the University of Georgia. After spending his first five seasons in Washington, Bailey was traded to the Denver Broncos in 2004 where he played the past 10 seasons.

He has 212 career starts, with 983 tackles (837 solo), 235 passes defensed, three sacks, nine forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. His 52 interceptions are the most among active NFL cornerbacks and he has started 10 of his 11 career postseason games, recording 34 tackles (30 solo), two interception returns for 105 yards and 10 passes defensed.

The 12 Pro Bowl selections trail only Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White (13) among defensive players in NFL history and tie for the sixth most overall.

Last season, Bailey appeared in five regular season games (three starts) for the Broncos, missing 11 games with a foot injury. He had 14 tackles (12 solo) and three passes defensed. He appeared in all three postseason games for Denver with two starts, including Super Bowl XLVII, and recorded 11 solo tackles.

“I’m excited,” Bailey said. “Last year was one of those years that I just couldn’t get over the fact of being hurt and grind my way through that. It was a tough, up-and-down year.

“I played in the Super Bowl, probably was the biggest game of my life, but we came up short and I’m still hungry. I’ve still got that drive to go out there and be the best and that’s why I’m still putting them on, and the Saints gave me an opportunity, I’m going to try to be a part of something special."

Bailey said that it hasn’t been determined which position he will play – cornerback, nickel back, safety, etc.

“I’ll get in where I fit in, but we’re all working to do the same thing, and that’s play a lot,” he said. “I think we all want to play a lot, we all want to be the guy that’s going to make our team better.

“I’m looking forward to it because Keenan Lewis is still a relatively young corner, especially compared to me. Just the things I can help him with, the things that we can help each other with, and all the young guys that are behind him. I want to go in and help those guys as much as possible but also take as much from them as I can. I don’t think I know everything, but I’m going out there to compete for a starting job and help this team be the best it can be.”

He said he was impressed with Coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, two key factors in his decision to join New Orleans.

“They want to win,” Bailey said. “They’re two coaches that are very competitive. You can see that when you watch them, you can hear it when you talk to them and I want that fire in my coaches because it’s burning inside of me, and I’m sure as well as every player in that locker room. We’re all on the same page and we all have the same goal in mind and that’s to win a championship.

“(The Saints) are very close (to a championship). You look at, Coach Payton took a year off, came back and they got in the playoffs, and won a game. They’re very close. I think any time you have a guy like Drew Brees calling the shots on offense, you’re always going to have a shot.

“Then, you put a good defense in with that and you give yourself a better shot. They’ve got all the pieces, so hopefully I’m another piece to help them get to where we want to go.”

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