Denver Broncos: Goodbye Champ, hello T.J.

Champ Bailey: The Denver Broncos officially released cornerback (and surefire hall of famer) Champ Bailey on March 6th.  It wasn’t really a surprise; the Bronco’s older roster got demolished in the super bowl and it is clear that the Broncos need some younger talent in order to get back to the super bowl in 2015.

That said Champ was great during his time in Denver.  Growing up in the early 2000’s I have always viewed him as a Redskin that played a few years for the Broncos, but in reality he played 5 years for the Redskins and 10 years in Denver.

One of Champ’s most memorable plays as a Bronco was his 99-yard interception return against the New England Patriots in the 2005-2006 season’s playoffs.  At the time it was the longest non scoring play in the history of the NFL and it helped the Broncos defeat the Patriots and move onto the AFC championship game (lost to the team of destiny that year, the Pittsburgh Steelers.)

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I obviously wanted the Broncos to win the super bowl this year (as I do every year) but this year I wanted it even more because I knew Champ was at the end of his career, especially after Bailey was torched by Torrey Smith in the playoffs two seasons ago.

Business is business however, and the Broncos needed to make this move.  Releasing Bailey allows them to get younger, faster, and stronger in the defensive secondary.  They took the first move in this direction by signing ex-Cleveland Brown T.J. Ward.

T.J. Ward: Ward is a 27-year-old safety out of the University of Oregon who was a pro bowler in 2013.  So far in his career he has 342 tackles and 5 interceptions.

More interestingly, he has 3.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles so far.  This shows that Ward is willing to play up on the line of scrimmage and rush the quarterback.

If Von Miller comes back from his ACL injury as good as he was, and the Broncos end up signing either DeMarcus Ware or Jared Allen the Broncos could have a stacked pass-rushing unit next season.

I am incredibly exicited about the Ward signing.  I think that he has the same level of skill as the “legion of boom” in Seattle and he is a huge upgrade at the safety spot.  His game reminds me of Troy Polamalu, a safety that can level running backs, force fumbles and cover the pass incredibly well.

The fact that he was able to be as good as he was while playing for the Browns is also incredibly impressive to me.  It’s not as if he was playing with elite talent on the offensive side of the ball.  I can only imagine how aggressive Jack Del Rio will be with Ward when the Broncos have decent sized leads next season.

Other news: I briefly mentioned DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen earlier.  Both used to be elite pass rushers but had down years last year.  Allen has been rumored to sign with Denver and if he doesn’t Ware would be a reasonable second choice for the Broncos.

Look, I’m not huge on signing aging ex-stars (which admittedly helped the Broncos get to the Super Bowl this year).  They may help you in the short run but they can’t always step up their game against younger and stronger opponents (the Broncos may have gotten to the super bowl due to their older talent, but they also lost because the Seahawks were younger in my opinion.)

However, another pass rusher would take some pressure off Von Miller (and T.J. Ward).  If Terrance Knighton can cause the same amount of havoc that he did in the post season last year, and teams are forced to play Miller and either Allen or Ware one on one, the Denver pass rush could be the best in the league.

Agree, disagree?  Share your thoughts below.

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