Yes, Saints cornerback Champ Bailey did ask about the possibility of taking teammate Corey White’s jersey No. 24. And no, the 16-year veteran didn’t get upset when White — whom the Saints drafted in 2012 — turned him down.
“I’m not the one to get attached to anything like that,” said Bailey, a 12-time Pro Bowler whose 52 career regular-season interceptions are the third-most among active NFL players. “It’s just a number. I’ll make the number I have look like something.”
Bailey, who joined the Saints in free agency this offseason after 10 years with the Denver Broncos and had worn No. 24 throughout his career, spoke about the situation at a charity softball game hosted by New Orleans guard Ben Grubbs in Metairie on Wednesday night.
He said he asked fellow cornerback White if he was attached to the number. White said he was, and Bailey let the matter end at that.
Bailey subsequently chose to wear No. 27 for the Saints because he wanted to remain in the 20s, and it was one of only two open in that range. No. 27 had been worn by ex-Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, who left for Philadelphia in free agency in March.
“I just got to live with it,” Bailey said. “I wasn’t going to make him an offer (of money for the number) or anything like that. I’m not paying for anything.
“I think if the roles were reversed, I probably would’ve considered it, but he didn’t want to. It’s his own decision.”
Bailey and White are among a group of players competing to start opposite entrenched cornerback Keenan Lewis this year. In 2013, White started six regular-season games and two playoff contests after former Saints cornerback Jabari Greer suffered a year-ending knee injury in November.
White has picked off two passes, broken up 10 throws and made 72 tackles (54 solo) in 26 regular-season games with the Saints.
Correction: This post originally said No. 27 was the only one available for Bailey to take in the 20s. It was one of two. This post has been updated.