What's Next for the Denver Broncos After the Aqib Talib Signing?

Cecil Lammey@@cecillammeyContributor IMarch 12, 2014

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Aqib Talib #31 of the New England Patriots breaks up a pass intended for Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 4th quarter in a game at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

After safety T.J. Ward was signed, the Denver Broncos weren’t done making a splash on the first day of free agency. Late in the evening, Denver signed unrestricted free-agent cornerback Aqib Talib.

According to Mike Klis, from the Denver Post, the agreement is for a six-year, $57 million deal with $26 million guaranteed.

Talib has a connection with Chris Harris Jr., the other starting cornerback for the Broncos. 

Broncos to have all-Kansas cornerback duo of Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.

— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 12, 2014

Talib finished his collegiate career with unanimous first-team All-Big 12 Conference accolades in 2007. That was the same year Harris was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year for the Jayhawks as a true freshman.

His career totals include 272 tackles (237 solo), 23 interceptions, 73 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Talib has also had 15 tackles (12 solo) and one pass defensed in four career postseason starts.

Talib checks in at 6’1” and 205 pounds. The seventh-year player has appeared in 77 regular-season games (63 starts) with Tampa Bay (2008-2012) and New England (2012-13). When healthy, Talib has the size, speed and physicality to shut down most any receiver in the league.

Let’s reflect on Talib’s football career to this point, while also looking ahead to what is next for the Broncos in free agency.

College Career

Coming out of high school, Talib was a three-sport star. In addition to football, he also lettered in basketball and track.

MIAMI - JANUARY 03:  Cornerback Aqib Talib #3 of the Kansas Jayhawks makes a catch against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on January 3, 2008 in Miami, Florida.  Kansas defeated Virginia Tech 24-21.  (Photo by Doug
Doug Benc/Getty Images

He was a redshirt during his freshman season (2004) at Kansas.

When he finally saw the field in 2005, Talib made it count. He was named to Rivals.com Freshmen All-American First Team.

During his sophomore season, Talib continued to star for the defense, but he also dabbled with playing offense. In the season finale against Missouri, Talib caught a 42-yard pass for a touchdown. He was named a second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated in 2006.

His 2007 season was the best of his collegiate career. He started the entire season at left cornerback, and even started on offense at wide receiver against Kansas State. Talib topped off his college career with an outstanding performance in the Orange Bowl.

In that game, his primary assignment (Eddie Royal) was held without a catch. Talib had five tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown to end his time with the Jayhawks. He was named Most Valuable Player in that game.

During his time at the University of Kansas, Talib started 32 of 34 games. He recorded 162 tackles, 13 interceptions, 43 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries with the Jayhawks.

Pro Career

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 31:  Aqib Talib #25 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts to his interception against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 31, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty
Harry How/Getty Images

Talib was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round (20th overall) of the 2008 NFL draft.

His best season with the Bucs was arguably 2010. His season was cut short by a Week 13 hip injury, but Talib had done enough to be named Defensive Back of the Year by the NFL Alumni Association.

Talib was acquired by New England in a trade with Tampa Bay midway through the 2012 season. He ranks seventh in the NFL with 19 interceptions, and he’s tied for fourth in the league with four interceptions returned for touchdowns since 2009.

He earned his first career Pro Bowl selection with the Patriots in 2013 after recording 44 tackles (35 solo), four interceptions, 13 passes defensed and one forced fumble. Opposing quarterbacks targeted him 89 times in 2013, but he only allowed 38 receptions.

He’s never played a full 16-game season in six years as a pro.


Talib’s size immediately stands out on film. He can knock away passes in the red zone, and he shows great urgency when the ball is coming in.

He has incredible foot frequency which allows him to change direction quickly without losing much speed. Talib is more of a quick player rather than a fast one, and he has a good closing burst after a receiver makes his break.

When the ball is in the air, Talib does a good job of timing his jump. He’ll attack the ball at the highest point, and he loves to fight with receivers for the ball.

Talib has the body control to tightrope down the sideline after an interception. He also can adjust to poorly thrown passes, and he’ll shadow a receiver like he knows the route.

He’s a smart player who understands coverage angles. This means he’s rarely out of position.


Talib lacks elite speed. He often looks for the interception and sometimes will miss on the big play.

There are two concerns with Talib that loom large—injuries and suspensions.

Hip and hamstring injuries have cut his seasons short. A suspension in 2012 for Adderall use caused the Buccaneers to bail on the talented corner.

Talib has had conduct issues since he came into the league. He’s older and wiser now, so that may not be the issue it used to be. Talib is the type of player who will respond when challenged.

How Does He Fit in Denver? 

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Talib will step in to start from day one. He’ll be the team’s top cornerback, and each week he should be matched up against an opponent’s top receiver.

His addition means that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is unlikely to come back to the Broncos in 2014. Talib is a superior player, and he’s not afraid to lay down a big hit.

Talib is a fine upgrade to the secondary. He will help lock down half the field and can also strengthen the run defense.

What’s Next for the Broncos?

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  DeMarcus Ware #94 and Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrate a fumble recovery in the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Ma
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now that the cornerback position has been taken care of, the Broncos should keep their attention (and salary-cap dollars) focused on the defensive side of the ball.

The next move for the Broncos could be to add a pass-rusher. That player is likely to be former Cowboys All-Pro Demarcus Ware.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos are considered the front-runners for Ware’s services. 

Filed to ESPN: Denver has emerged as the favorite to land former Dallas DE DeMarcus Ware, per league sources.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014

The team had been courting free agent Jared Allen, but, per Klis, the two sides were at a stalemate. In fact, Klis tweeted that Allen’s visit to Dove Valley wasn’t going to happen. 

I guess there is some Twitter chatter out there Jared Allen is visiting Broncos tomorrow. He is not.

— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 12, 2014

In addition to adding another pass-rusher, the Broncos may start to explore free-agent middle linebackers. Some players the Broncos could be interested in are guys such as Daryl Smith (Baltimore Ravens), Brandon Spikes (Patriots) or Jameel McClain (Ravens).

This offseason is going to be full of moves on the defensive side of the ball. The start to free agency has certainly shown the Broncos want to seriously improve their defense.


This was another strong move for the Broncos. With two moves (Talib and Ward signings), they have completely reworked their secondary.

In addition to upgrading the cornerback position, the Broncos continue to add strong players who can hit and play with attitude. This new, more aggressive attitude is one that should spread across the team.

Led by John Elway, the Broncos have a clear vision of what they want to be. Elway’s clarity helps them find (and sign) the players who fit best for the 2014 incarnation.

The Broncos have made some of the biggest moves to open free agency, and they aren’t done yet.

Note: All quotes and injury/practice observations obtained firsthand. Record/statistical information provided via email from the Denver Broncos. All contract information for individual players is from Spotrac.com. Cecil Lammey can be followed on Twitter @CecilLammey


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