Bailey pays visit to Denver

Originally Published: February 25, 2004
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Champ Bailey's fact-finding -- and perhaps house-hunting -- tour of the Denver area, which began Wednesday, isn't apt to dramatically delay the completion of a proposed blockbuster trade between the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos.

The teams' discussions seem to have slowed over the last day or two, but Washington and Denver already have agreed in principle to terms and are expected to officially announce the trade next week. The Broncos would send running back Clinton Portis to Washington for Bailey and a second-round pick in this year's draft.

Sources said the Broncos were much further along with Bailey in that regard than the Redskins are with Portis, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons. Bailey needs to reach agreement on a contract with the Broncos for the trade to be completed. Portis, though, does not have to sign off on a new contract because he still has two years left on his original pact.

Bailey visited Broncos headquarters in Englewood and later watched the Denver Nuggets lose to the Los Angeles Lakers, 112-111. His wife, Hanady, was with him.

"Let's just say it's progressing," Bailey told reporters before entering the Pepsi Center for the Nuggets game. "Let's see how it works out."

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Because there remains some small degree of uncertainty to a swap, agent Jack Reale has continued to discuss contract parameters with other teams interested in acquiring Bailey. The New York Jets are one of those teams. They have floated a number of proposals to Redskins officials, some of which have included veteran players only, others in which they have offered their first-round choice in April's draft. The Jets have denied an ESPN.com report that defensive end Shaun Eillis was part of the trade talks.

Most of Bailey's friends agree his preference would be to play for a team based in the South, or for the Detroit Lions, whose roster includes his younger brother Boss, a starting linebacker. But the Lions' interest in Champ Bailey seems to have waned, given the steep price of acquiring him. None of the teams close to his Atlanta-area home have ardently pursued him.

Therein, then, lies a host of questions that need asking.

Like, what if Bailey and his wife do not want to move to Denver? Or, what happens if a player born in the South, one who's spent his five-year pro career in the Northeast, experiences a Rocky Mountain low every time he ponders a move West?

Heck, what if the Baileys simply don't like that much snow?

By this weekend, Bailey and his wife will have seen firsthand the city in which they might live with their son, Keevan, for the next six or seven years. The visit is likely to take at least a couple of days and, given the ramifications involved, will include an extensive tour of the area.

"What if [Bailey] just woke up one day and thought, 'Geez, I don't know anything about Denver. I think maybe I'd rather play in New York,' " a close Bailey confidant said. "So it's an element that has to be addressed."

Bailey, 25, has played in Denver only once in his career -- in November 2001 (a 17-10 victory by the Redskins). Before Wednesday, neither Bailey nor his wife have visited for any extensive period, certainly never long enough to determine if the city is right for them. Getting a better feel for the city, and for Broncos management, is essentially the focus of their trip.

"I didn't really have to come to really know what Denver is all about," Bailey told reporters Wednesday night. "I know they're a first-class organization and I feel like I'm a first-class player and I deserve a first-class organization. I mean they're intriguing, very intriguing. So, hopefully things will work out."

It is not known if Portis will make a similar visit to the Washington area, or if the two-year veteran has even met Redskins coaches and team officials.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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