ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Talib signed a six-year, $57 million deal:
Filed to ESPN: Denver has reached agreement on a 6-year, $57M deal that includes $26M gtd with former Patriots CB Aqib Talib, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 12, 2014
It isn’t outlandish on a per-year basis, but the length and total scope of the contract make it a risky investment for a player who’s never played a full season and has a less-than-stellar track record off the field.
Nevertheless, his departure deals a major a blow to New England’s secondary, which looked positively overmatched once Talib left the AFC Championship Game due to injury. The Broncos gained a potentially elite defender while depriving their biggest rival of arguably their biggest difference-maker on defense.
For Denver, it’s a win-win.
For the Patriots, however, Talib’s departure means it’s time to kick their offseason plans into high gear.
With Talib, Sam Shields and Brent Grimes signed as well as ESPN.com reporting that Indianapolis has locked up Vontae Davis, the market for cornerbacks is suddenly thin. Do the Patriots pursue Antonio Cromartie and his penchant for getting burned deep? No, thank you.
He also called Tom Brady an "a*****e," which probably doesn’t help his cause.
Do the Pats turn around and give Denver a taste of its own medicine by inking Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? He played very well last season, but told reporters at the Super Bowl that he would consider retiring if Denver won. As such, it’s fair to question his long-term commitment.
How about Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn? He’s got the best first name in football, but at just 5’8”, he has trouble with bigger receivers. Though he has a knack for making plays, he doesn’t really fit the mold of a shutdown corner.
Asante Samuel? Old.
Champ Bailey? Old and slow, although he’d be an interesting project alongside Devin McCourty as a safety.
Brandon Browner? Cortland Finnegan? Corey Graham? The list goes on. There are plenty of serviceable corners out there, but none of them can impact New England’s defense like Talib did.
There is only one cornerback left on the market who would truly give the Patriots a shutdown presence on the outside and he’s technically still under contract.
Now, more than ever, the Patriots need to make a big move to land—say it with me—Darrelle Revis.
According to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora, the Buccaneers are not only shopping Revis, but the Patriots are in a strong position to acquire him since Tampa Bay would part with him for as little as a fifth-round pick:
Patriots in a strong position to land Revis now, especially after Talib's deal. Revis wants to be there. Will only take a 5th round pick— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2014
As Erik Frenz points out on Boston.com, the Patriots don’t have a fifth-round pick this year, but do have two sixth-rounders and could always involve future picks.
What’s more, La Canfora adds that Revis wants to be a Patriot above all else, so if the Bucs lose patience and outright release him, New England might be able to sign him for significantly less than his current salary-cap hit of $16 million:
Everything I've heard is that Revis would love to be a Patriot, above any other option. Still ample time for that to happen— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2014
Teams haven't been willing to take on his contract via trade, so I see no reason why they would suddenly pony up in free agency.
While it doesn't seem likely, I wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of New England trading for Revis and then restructuring his contract.
Revis may no longer be unrivaled at the cornerback position, but if healthy, there’s no reason he can’t reclaim that mantle from Richard Sherman.
If all it takes to land him is a fifth-round pick and a few extra hours at the negotiating table, there’s no reason for the Patriots not to pull the trigger.
With ESPN.com reporting that safety T.J. Ward also joined the Broncos, Denver is sprinting out of the gate this offseason and the Patriots can’t afford to be left behind.