Because some guy in Florida decided to write a column about top players who could be cut from every team, and because that guy said Aqib Talib is potentially gone from the Broncos this coming season, The Afternoon Drive decided to consider this highly unlikely scenario in Denver.
Talib, who turned 31 on Monday, was the best cornerback in the NFL this past year by Pro Football Focus’ metric and it’s easy to see why when he didn’t give up a single touchdown. He also had three interceptions - including a pick-six - and 32 tackles in 13 games.
Noting that the Broncos truly have only one untouchable player in Von Miller, Eric Goodman pointed out the only obvious red flag with the cornerback - Talib’s off-field issues.
“Aqib is a very valuable guy on a lot of different levels,” Goodman said. “Is he a knucklehead at times? No question. Does he get in trouble off the field? He shot himself in the leg last summer, so let’s not ignore the obvious. But his teammates love him, and he’s a great player.”
Congrats to @AqibTalib21 - @PFF's Best Coverage Defender: "He didn’t allow a TD all season; surrendered a passer rating of just 49.5 (2nd)." pic.twitter.com/sKEiqigL5e— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) January 24, 2017
Les Shapiro added that Talib is a bit of a “pied piper in the locker room too” adding to his value on a team in transition.
“John Elway knows he has to win with defense again next year. [The Broncos] do not want to break up that defense in any way, shape or form,” Shapiro noted. “But John knows it’s going to take a while for the offense to come back to form where [the Broncos] can actually rely on the offense to get things done.”
Additionally, Vance Joseph has basically said that Talib is under contract, so he’s not going anywhere.
“Elway wants to keep this defense together. Vance Joseph wants to keep this defense together. Joe Woods wants to keep this defense together. And Aqib Talib was very possibly the best CB in the NFL last year, a leader in the locker room...but you [cut him], and I think you’re asking for trouble.”
Talib is set to earn $12 million this year - his $11 million salary plus a $1 million signing bonus - plus a dead cap hit of just $2 million if he were cut. And the Broncos have close to $40 million in cap money to play with this season.
For all that basic math plus the whole “best cornerback in the league thing,” the only thing getting cut near Talib will be gold chains flashing in front of him.
Congrats to #Broncos' cornerback @AqibTalib21, named to AP's 1st Team All-Pro - 3 INTs, 1 pick-six, 32 tackles and 1 ripped chain. pic.twitter.com/ba4smMQsqO— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) January 6, 2017
“Elway has a luxury no other team does - he doesn’t have to pay big money for a quarterback,” Goodman pointed out. “So if you’re cutting your second-best defensive player and you’re not paying your quarterbacks at all, then you have done something drastically wrong.”
And, of course, when it comes to this defense, Elway has not done anything drastically wrong.
Mike Shanahan also joined The Afternoon Drive on Tuesday and mostly talked about son Kyle heading off to fix a 2-14 Niners team.
But as a “quarterback whisperer” who has sent six quarterbacks to the Pro Bowl in his time coaching, Shanahan was, of course, asked his take on the Broncos’ QBs.
What he said will probably be used for whichever side of the debate you prefer. If I were you, I’d just take it as one person’s opinion :)
“Unless you’re there every day, you don’t know the intangibles but just watching from afar, Trevor Siemian, I’m very impressed with the guy,” Shanahan said. “I like the way he handles himself, I like his release, his ability to make plays, he seems like a natural leader, but the big question is can he stay healthy?”
As for Paxton Lynch, Shanahan agreed that it’s easy to see what kind of athlete he is and what kind of arm strength he has, but ultimately, he sees Lynch needing a little more time.
“You have two guys with a lot of athletic ability, but I think it will be very hard to beat out Trevor even though Paxton is very talented,” said the quarterback whisperer.