Saints cut Champ Bailey

ByMike Triplett ESPN logo
Sunday, August 31, 2014

The New Orleans Saints released future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey on Saturday before he ever wound up playing a snap for them.

They also released veteran receiver Robert Meachem and both of the kickers they had in camp -- Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke -- while cutting down the roster to 53 players.

Bailey's release marks another disappointing chapter this year in an otherwise sensational career. The 36-year-old was also released by the Denver Broncos earlier this year after spending 10 seasons in Denver.

This latest release is a mild surprise. But a minor foot injury that sidelined Bailey for nearly three weeks during training camp couldn't have helped his chances of securing a roster spot.

As coach Sean Payton said early in camp, "With a player like Champ we don't need to see it every day, we just need to see it once in a while." And they obviously didn't get to see enough.

Bailey, too, recognized that despite his stellar track record, he needed to make an impression on his new team.

Said Bailey last week: "Even though I've played 15 years, it doesn't matter. Man, this is a production business. I think every guy going into training camp has to show what he can do. And, you know, I feel good. If they like what I do, then I'll play a lot on Sundays. Plain and simple."

Bailey had a solid performance when he was healthy, including the last two weeks. But he is the type of player who probably needed to lock down a starting job to keep his spot on the roster since he doesn't play special teams.

It appears as though the Saints prefer veteran Patrick Robinson as their No. 2 starting cornerback. And they really like safety Rafael Bush and cornerback Corey White as nickel/dime backs and special teamers.

The Saints also decided to keep undrafted rookie cornerback Brian Dixon in a backup role.

Bailey went to 12 Pro Bowls with the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins, racking up 52 career interceptions along the way. But his 2013 season in Denver was marred by a major foot injury that limited him to five regular-season games. He then signed an incentive-laden deal with the Saints that included only $500,000 in guaranteed money in the form of a signing bonus.

Bailey was due a base salary of $1 million this year, plus a $250,000 roster bonus if he was active for six games, among other incentives.

His agent, Jack Reale, told that Bailey wants to continue playing.

"Definitely, and he is fully healthy now," Reale told "He had a plantar problem, which is resolved, but he just missed too much time for the coach's evaluation to be complete and unfortunately in the last two games they didn't throw at him, so he couldn't show his stuff. He is fine."

Meachem's release is probably even less of a surprise because of the Saints' depth at receiver. Younger receivers Joe Morgan and Nick Toon both made the roster as New Orleans' fourth and fifth receivers. Morgan has a similar skill set as a blocker and deep threat, and Morgan had a stronger preseason.

Meachem, 29, had a great run, however, as a role player in two stints with the Saints -- including his best year during their 2009 Super Bowl season.

In a total of six seasons with the Saints, the former first-round draft pick caught 157 passes for 2,593 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also had one disappointing season in San Diego in 2012 after signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the Chargers.

It's unclear what the Saints will do at kicker, though several experienced veterans are now available on the market. Both Graham and Dimke were decent in training camp and the preseason, but neither was consistent enough to lock down the job.