Will Bailey Stay?

When the Redskins signed Joe Gibbs to coach, a cry went up among fans: Champ Bailey couldn't possibly leave now. But here's the thing: it all depends. For Bailey, this isn't an emotional decision.

Make no mistake, he loves the history of the Redskins. If this were Arizona, there's no way Bailey would want to return. The main reason he does is because he wants to play for one of the NFL's hallmark franchises. Plus he likes the area and loves his teammates.

Also, friends have talked to him in recent days about Joe Gibbs' importance to the community and how he can be a great thing for the organization.

All of which will mean nothing if the Redskins don't improve their original offer. In the end, this is still a business decisio for Bailey. Here's why: the original signing bonus, which was reportedly around $15 million, was misleading. The Redskins were only guaranteeing around $7.4 million up front. The rest would come via roster bonuses and the like.

Let's say Bailey were hurt during the first year of his contract, suffering an injury so devastating his career would be altered. The Redskins could cut him after the season and not pay him the rest of the bonus. He'd still be left with a lot of money, but not nearly as much as if the offer had been structured differently.

Then again, it could become a moot point as it's clear the Redskins will franchise him. We also know that this coaching staff likes Bailey a lot and is pivotal to their plans. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves playing man coverage and he just inherited one of the best man corners in the game -- despite what some fans think, every GM in the league would put Bailey among their top three at the position.

Also, Gibbs knows what Darrell Green meant to the defense under Richie Petitbon and would probably fight to have the team give Bailey a better offer. Gibbs talked to Bobby Beathard often when both were aligned with Atlanta and Beathard called Bailey the best earlier this season. His top two positions of premium: cornerback and quarterback.

Another factor: will another team give Bailey his desired bonus and still trade high draft picks to get him? That's a steep price in an offseason where many high-caliber corners are free. That's why we're finally starting to get the feeling that Bailey will be back next season. Call it a hunch. And, in a roundabout way, you can thank Gibbs for that.


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