Look, we all saw this coming, didn't we? It's been obvious for many months now that Champ Bailey would not be back in 2014, at least not at his $10M cap figure.
The only question was whether the future HOFer would accept a hefty pay cut and/or shift to safety in order to stick around.
Obviously, the answers are no, and no.
It's being reported that the Broncos did not offer Champ the chance to stay at a reduced salary, and that they instead told him they would be cutting him outright.
At face value, this reads as a coldhearted approach to one of Denver's greatest players.
But let's be real here - just because Champ says he wasn't offered a lower contract, doesn't mean there were no negotiations.
We all know that Bailey is a (justifiably) proud athlete, and perhaps until right about now, he has always made clear that he would make major career decisions on his own terms.
If the Broncos and Bailey were going to agree to a reduced salary for 2014, the team would have to have guaranteed some or all of it.
And that's on the very bold (foolish?) assumption that the two sides could have found a number to their liking.
For argument's sake, let's say that Denver sees Champ as a $2M/year player now, while Bailey thinks he's worth double or triple that.
Does anyone really think Bailey would admit (and so soon) that the Broncos offered him such a low salary to stay?
If he were to say so, the next question would be how much he was offered.
A segment of fans would be upset at the Broncos for having lowballed a future Ring of Famer, while another group would say Champ was being selfish and greedy, and that he should just
risk his long-term health play for whatever Denver was offering, if he wants a SB ring.
Chances are, the two sides exchanged numbers, but were too far apart.
By not acknowledging this publicly, the Broncos get to bid farewell to one of their greats without having to sully his name or legacy.
Champ gets to move on with some semblance of pride.
All he has to do is admit that he's not a $10M/year player anymore - not that the Broncos think he's worth $2M, or whatever it is they suggested.
Money aside, we don't know that the Broncos think Champ can be a good enough safety to make their 2014 roster as one.
We don't know that he can be a better safety than either Rahim Moore, Duke Ihenacho, or whatever other veterans and prospects they may have their eyes on.
Keep in mind, just because a guy is (or was?) a great tackler among NFL cornerbacks, doesn't mean he is physical enough to be a quality NFL safety.
We don't know how much they would have to have paid him (especially in guaranteed money) for him to have given that a shot.
The Broncos might have said, "Champ, you can try to make the roster as a safety, but we can't guarantee you millions of dollars just to show up for training camp."
They might also be thinking, "We need a longer term solution there, anyway, and would rather have a rising 22-year-old at a fixed, cheap, long-term contract, than a declining 36-year-old who's never played the position on a one-year deal."
Admittedly, there are a lot of assumptions here.
But as always, we have to read between the lines, and we certainly can't accept reports and quotes as the entire story.
So, Champ says he wasn't offered a chance to stay at a lower salary.
Does anyone really buy that?