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Aqib Talib's contract: Scenarios & cap effects

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MHR's amateur capologist breaks down the Aqib Talib contract situation and possible scenarios for the troubled cornerback in the coming years.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

By now I assume that anyone reading this knows that Aqib Talib sustained a gun shot wound to his leg (fortunately, it doesn't appear to be serious) in an incident allegedly occurring in a Dallas nightclub, although there are conflicting reports about the nature and location of the incident.

I also assume that any readers know that Talib has been involved in previous unfortunate "incidents" on and off the field that have led to a number of Denver Broncos fans questioning his judgment, morality, and decision making, with some going so far as to call him a "thug' and to call for the Broncos to cut him or trade him. Personally I prefer to refrain from rushing to judge and condemn him over this latest incident, at least until I know more details about the situation and the circumstances.  Instead, I'm going to look at his contract, and how various actions the Broncos could potentially take relating to that contract would affect their salary cap.

2016 is the 3rd year of a 6 year contract Talib signed in 2014 that runs through the 2019-2020 season.  $3M of the $5M signing bonus he received remains to hit the cap in $1M increments in 2016-2018.  Talib's 2016 base salary of $8.5M guaranteed in March.  The contract also calls for a per game roster bonus of $31,250 per game for each regular season game that Talib is on the active game day roster of 46, which comes to a maximum of $500K if he is active for every game.  If Talib were to be cut before the regular season begins, the dead money would be $11.5M, the 2016 base salary plus the remaining $3M of the prorated signing bonus.  $9.5M of that would count against he 2016 cap.  The other $2M (the prorated signing bonus for 2017 and 2018) would count against the 2017 cap since June 1 has passed. The Broncos would no longer be responsible for the per game roster bonus which would save just enough cap space to pay a rookie minimum salary for someone to replace him on the roster.  If the Broncos agreed to trade him to a team that was willing and able (as in having nearly $9M in 2016 cap space for him) to assume his contract, the dead money would be $3M (the remainder of his prorated signing bonus).  $1M would count against the 2016 cap, and the remaining $2M would count against the 2017 cap.

After 2016, Talib has no new guaranteed money, so there would be no difference in the cap effects between cutting him and trading him.  In 2017 and 2018, his base salary is $11M and his cap hit is $12M for each of those years. Cutting or trading him would result in $2M in dead money in 2017, or $1M in 2018 (the dead money being the remainder of the prorated signing bonus in either of those years).  In 2019 his base salary is $8M, as is his cap hit, and no dead money would result if the Broncos cut him or traded him.

I think it is highly unlikely that Talib will be traded in 2016.  Few teams currently have $9M in 2016 cap space they could afford to spend on him, and he is "damaged goods" at the moment anyway.  I also think it's unlikely that he will be cut in 2016 unless criminal charges result from the shooting incident.  The dead money cap hit would be too large, and he's still a very productive CB if he's healthy.  However he could potentially be cut or traded after the 2016 season with little dead money and significant cap savings if his performance declines and/or the Broncos are fed up with his behavioral issues.