Now through the end of August, we will continue our 90-in-90 player series. If you missed the previous player breakdowns, you can check them out here.
Name: Aqib Talib
Height: 6'1" Weight: 205
Age: 30 Experience: 3
When the Denver Broncos signed Aqib Talib as a free agent in 2014, they knew they would be getting a premier player at the cornerback position who has the ball skills and talent to take over games and shutdown the best receiver on opposing teams. They also knew that they would be acquiring a player who has a history checkered with poor off-field decisions.
It was a big-time gamble, but so far the risk has been worth the reward. In two seasons with the Broncos, Talib has proven his worth — amassing 109 tackles, 29 passes defended 7 interceptions, four of which were game-changing pick-sixes that helped propel the Broncos to victory.
Yet, a dark cloud hangs over Talib, who could be subject to a disciplinary suspension for an incident at a Dallas nightclub earlier this off-season. If suspended, the Broncos No Fly Zone will be without one of its key players for a decent portion of the season, but certainly have the depth to be able to replace him without too much worry.
It's pure speculation, but the Broncos brass might not be able to stomach any more potential headaches with Talib if a suspension does occur. It's a virtual certainty he will play the 2016 campaign as a Bronco, but his future with the team beyond this year is certainly in question.
The Broncos can save $10 million dollars in 2017 if they cut him and will only incur $2 million dollars in dead money. The team isn’t in desperate need of cap space next off-season, but they could certainly opt to reserve that money for a future contract extension for rising star Bradley Roby or bolster other weaknesses on the team such as offensive line.
On that same note, the team could save $11 million dollars by cutting him in 2018 and only accrue $1 million dollars in dead money, whereas cutting him in 2019 will mean no dead money and a savings of $8 million dollars.
At the end of the day, it is hard to imagine the Broncos parting ways with Talib if he is not suspended and continues to play at the high-level we have witnessed for the past two seasons. The Broncos’ secondary is undoubtedly the strength of their defense, so it makes little sense to gut the pinnacle core of the entire unit.
The Good: Exceptional athlete with tremendous size and length for the position. Has the ability to lock down the left corner back position and shut out the opposing teams’ top receiver any given Sunday. Ballhawk with a penchant for big plays and turnovers who anticipates and reads quarterbacks tremendously. Physical, aggressive and willing in run support. Has been rated one of the best cornerbacks in the league grade wise over the past two seasons.
The Bad: Can be beat by smaller, shiftier speed options at receivers, especially on short and underneath routes. Has always battled nagging injuries and has never played a full entire 16 game regular season. Off the field issues are a huge question mark and his lack of discipline in that regard is a huge cause for concern. At thirty years old, how many more quality years does he have in the tank?
Quotable: "It just adds more playmakers. Just continue to add more guys that know how to win and that's what you want." — Chris Harris Jr. on what having Talib back on the field means for the defense
Status: Talib is certainly a lock to make the Broncos final 53 man roster, but it is still unknown whether or not he will be suspended by the NFL. If he is, expect Bradley Roby to step up and move from the nickel corner position to manning down one of the outside corner positions in his absence.
There is no questioning Talib’s talent and what he mean to the team, but his future beyond the 2016 season with the Broncos is certainly up in the air if he fails to grow and move on from his habitual off the field problems that have plagued him since he first came into the NFL.