The Saints made the difficult decision to cut veteran cornerback Champ Bailey on Saturday. Bailey was signed by the Saints in April to a two-year deal. After dealing with a lingering foot injury that caused him to miss 11 games last season, the Broncos cut him in March.
The Saints picked him up hoping he could fill the void left by the release of Jabari Greer, but it became apparent that he is a shell of his former self and would likely be a liability on the outside. Bailey could potentially be productive for a team as a safety or nickel corner, but it's a position that the Saints don't need much help with. With Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro, Rafael Bush, and the emergence of Vinnie Sunseri, The Saints have too much depth for Bailey to get any playing time at safety.
Many people were surprised that the Saints cut Bailey due to how thin the team is at the second corner position. An injury to Keenan Lewis could make the Saints entirely too vulnerable and inexperienced at CB. In the end, it was the right decision. I'm no more excited than you about the idea of Patrick Robinson starting, but it's going to pay off as the right choice. It became apparent over the offseason with the release of a few veteran defenders that the Saints are focused on getting younger and faster on defense. Playing Bailey wouldn't fit that mold. Adding his foot injury to his declining speed, Bailey no longer had the agility and athleticism to keep up with top WR's in the game today. This has been looming since the 2012 playoffs with Denver when he was burned deep two different times by Baltimore receivers. To make matters worse, in the five games he did play last season, Bailey was anemic in run defense with a -2.2 rating against the run according to Pro Football Focus. It could've been a nightmare watching Champ try to keep up with Roddy White Or Julio Jones in week one.
Either way, the Saints are going to need to see improvements from the corners to make a run at the Super Bowl. Corey White struggled last year in his role on the outside and was repeatedly targeted by opposing QB's down the stretch of the season. It seems that he may have found his niche as a nickel corner, but the outside has to be solidified for him to settle there. In my opinion, Patrick Robinson is the biggest x-factor on the team for this season with the release of Bailey. Even with the injuries at the position last year, the Saints ranked second in the league in pass defense. The second corner position is now a void that is his to fill and his performance thus far isn't anything to feel confident about. It's critical that he improves.
The player that made the roster due to Bailey being cut is rookie Brian Dixon. Dixon is a big, physical corner who thrives in press coverage with limited agility. It'll be interesting to see how Dixon can progress this season and if he plays his way into seeing some snaps. He seems to have the potential to turn into a productive cornerback in the NFL.
It'll all play out soon. One. More. Week.