Legendary corner Champ Bailey will be released by the Broncos after ten seasons with the team.
The three-time All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowler was told of the decision by Johns Elway and Fox on Wednesday.
Bailey was not offered a chance to renegotiate a lower salary or position move, but acknowledges he may have to shift to safety to catch on elsewhere.
Denver would have owed Champ a $1M roster bonus on March 15, and his salary would have been $9M.
While that officially means the Broncos will save $10M in cap space, they also would probably have owed him a $500K workout bonus, given his track record of earning them.
According to Over the Cap, the move will increase Denver's cap space to more than $29M, with plenty more available by cutting or restructuring the contracts of Chris Kuper ($4M savings in an outright release), Joel Dreessen ($2.5M), and Jacob Tamme ($3M).
There's reportedly been speculation that the Broncos have been trying to pry Darrelle Revis and his $16M cap number free from Tampa Bay via trade.
Either way, Denver now has enough room to make another huge splash this offseason.
They could acquire Revis, a star safety, add a middle linebacker like D'Qwell Jackson, and a veteran wide receiver, and still have room to re-sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. From there, they would still have the ability to extend young stars Demaryius and Julius Thomas at relatively favorable terms.
The Broncos first acquired Bailey in a blockbuster trade that sent running back Clinton Portis to Washington and also brought back a second-round pick, which became Tatum Bell.
In ten seasons with the team, Champ played in 135 regular season games (132 starts), racking up 34 interceptions for three touchdowns, two sacks, 123 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, and 606 total tackles.
He added one postseason interception, which will forever stand among the greatest plays in Broncos history:
Over the 2005 and 2006 seasons, Champ piled up an otherworldly 18 interceptions; in '06, he finished second to Dolphins DE Jason Taylor in the voting for defensive player of the year.
At his peak, he was the most complete corner in the game, while offering lockdown coverage, sure tackling, and stellar run support throughout his career.
We'll have more thoughts on Bailey's release later on.
But for now, we'll simply offer our thanks to Champ for ten unforgettable years.