Legendary corner Bailey retires after 15 seasons

Mark-Barron-102814-Getty-FTR

The Broncos' loss to the Seahawks in last season's Super Bowl was the closest Champ Bailey got to a championship. 

That will forever be the case.

The future Hall of Famer has decided to retire from the NFL, according to multiple reports Tuesday. The free-agent cornerback had received interest from teams, but Bailey reportedly wants to pursue life after football.

Bailey, 36, was signed by the Saints last spring but failed to make final roster cuts. He had tryouts with the Lions and Ravens this season, Pro Football Talk reports. 

Bailey played the last 10 seasons with Denver after spending his first five in the NFL with Washington. A shutdown corner for much of his career, Bailey made three All-Pro teams and was selected to 12 Pro Bowls. 

He trails only Hall of Fame end Reggie White (13) among defensive players in NFL history in Pro Bowls, and his 52 career interceptions were the most among active players.

Bailey's retirement makes him eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019. Tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed will be eligible the same class, and all three should make it on their first ballot.

BUCS TRADE BARRON TO RAMS

The Buccaneers had just about everyone on the block before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline. Now that the deadline has come and gone, safety Mark Barron is no longer a Buccaneer.

Tampa Bay traded Barron to St. Louis at the 4 p.m. buzzer, ESPN's Adam Schefter was first to report. 

The Rams are giving up fourth- and sixth-round picks to acquire him.

Barron, the seventh-overall pick in the 2012 draft, never lived up to his billing as a hard-hitting playmaker out of the University of Alabama while in Tampa. 

He flashed his moments over two and a half seasons, but ended his time graded out as Pro Football Focus' No. 66 safety. He was ranked No. 55 in his second season after being No. 70 as a rookie, so there was little improvement there.

There were hopes he could turn it around under Lovie Smith, but Barron's continued poor play at a position critical to Smith's defense made him expendable. The Buccaneers have had terrible secondary play other than cornerback Alterraun Verner all season.

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, it found a more desperate team in the secondary. Consider the Rams just featured four rookie corners against the Chiefs in Week 8. The safeties aren't that much more experienced in T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod.

Per ESPN's Adam Caplan, the Rams will waive quarterback Case Keenum to make room for Barron on the roster.

NO TIMETABLE FOR FAIRLEY’S RETURN

Lions coach Jim Caldwell did not disclose a timetable for Nick Fairley's return after the defensive tackle injured his right knee in a win over Atlanta on Sunday.

Caldwell says he's aware of a report that Fairley could miss around a month, but says the Lions haven't come to that conclusion yet. He says he's received no indication that the injury is season-ending.

Fairley was injured as he hit Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on a pass play. Lions teammate Ndamukong Suh, rushing Ryan from the other side, crashed into Fairley.

After falling awkwardly, Fairley clutched his right knee and was noticeably limping as he was helped off the field.

Detroit has an open date this weekend, then hosts Miami.

MISSING BRONCOS FAN FOUND SAFE

A Broncos fan who disappeared during last week's game has been found safe, police said Tuesday.

Denver Police Sgt. Steve Warneke said Paul Kitterman, 53, was found Tuesday night in Pueblo, about 100 miles south of Denver. Warneke did not have any information about Kitterman's disappearance, but he said no criminal charges are expected.

"All we were trying to do was make sure he was unharmed, and he was," Warneke said. "So at that point, we're finished."

Police referred all other questions to Kitterman's family. The man's stepson, Jarod Tonneson, did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press on his cellphone Tuesday night.

Family and friends of Kitterman had been searching for him since Thursday night's game against the Chargers at Sports Authority Field.

Tonneson told investigators his stepfather had not been seen since he left his seat to meet friends during halftime. Tonneson filed a missing persons report with Denver police, scoured the sprawling stadium, called local hospitals and detox centers, and taped fliers around the city.

The two went to the game with two of their friends after a day spent working and hunting at another friend's ranch in Kremmling, a small town in the mountains of northern Colorado.

Kitterman and Tonneson, both construction workers, hurriedly made the 100-mile trip to the stadium after a friend offered tickets. It was Kitterman's first time there, and in his haste, he forgot his cellphone and took no credit cards and very little cash.

Kitterman had four or five beers in the course of a four-hour span — not enough to become disoriented, said Tonneson, who noted that his stepfather did not have any known health or personal problems.

Contributors: Vinnie Iyer, The Associated Press

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Sporting News editorial team