Boss Bailey joins Pro Bowl brother Champ in Denver

Updated: March 6, 2008, 10:36 PM ET
Associated Press

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Bailey brothers are teaming up in Denver.

The Broncos on Thursday signed free agent linebacker Boss Bailey, the younger brother of perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey.

"I'm excited to have the chance to play with my brother, and I know that Boss' speed and versatility will have a great impact on our defense," Champ Bailey said. "I can't wait to get on the field with him."

Agent Jack Reale said Boss Bailey signed a five-year deal worth $17.5 million that includes $8 million in guarantees over the first two seasons. Escalators in the last two years of the deal could make the total package worth $20.5 million.

Boss Bailey spent his first five seasons in Detroit, after being selected in the second round of the 2003 draft. He had a standout career at the University of Georgia, where he followed his older brother as an all-conference selection.

The 28-year-old linebacker has appeared in 58 games, including 51 starts, and has made 258 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions. Last season, he had a career-best 3 sacks and 47 tackles in 15 games.

Reale said his client canceled a couple of visits to other teams after seeing he would be a good fit with Bob Slowik's new defensive scheme in Denver.

He said playing with his brother wasn't the overriding factor.

"Boss and Champ both realized that first and foremost this is a business deal and Boss had to do what was best for him and his family," Reale said. "But being able to play pro football with his brother certainly is a nice factor, just a great added feature. In the modern era, two brothers of this caliber haven't played on the same team, starting on the same defense. It sure will be interesting."

The Baileys will be the fourth pair of brothers to play for the Broncos, and will join Dave and Doug Widell (1990-92) and Eldon and William Danenhauer (1960) as the only brothers to play for the franchise at the same time.

Although coach Mike Shanahan has said the organization is shifting its emphasis from free agency to the draft to fill its many needs after missing the playoffs two straight years, the Broncos shored up their linebacker corps with experience this week.

They already had signed free agent Niko Koutouvides, who will get a chance to start at middle linebacker, and waived Ian Gold, who spent seven seasons in Denver sandwiched around a season in Tampa Bay in 2004.

Boss Bailey will play strong side linebacker in Denver, and D.J. Williams will move back to the weak side after a year in the middle.

The Broncos also signed free agent receiver Edell Shepherd on Thursday. He is a fifth-year player who has spent time with the Lions, Texans, Buccaneers and Bears.

Reale also represents Broncos longtime kicker Jason Elam, whom the team allowed to become a free agent. He said Elam, who would like to remain in Denver, will begin making a series of visits to other teams next week.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press