Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots wanted to bring back Aqib Talib but once they saw the contract he signed with the Denver Broncos, they probably felt much better about the decision to let him walk.
The Broncos gave Talib $26 million guaranteed, the most ever for a cornerback. Talib has been considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league, but that's a lot of dough for a cornerback with a history of hip and hamstring injuries, as well as off-field issues that have subsided in recent years.
The 6'1", 205-pound cornerback was deployed all over the field for the Patriots in 2013, mainly covering a team's No. 1 receiver wherever he went on the field, even using his unique size to cover New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. That being said, he's far from perfect, and he has holes in his game as exposed by Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
The Broncos can cut ties with Talib after the second year of the deal and still get back most of his cap hit, according to Spotrac, but they are paying him $11.5 million for 2014—just $500,000 short of Darrelle Revis with the Patriots—and if they cut him after the first year of the deal, they will owe him $4 million in dead money in 2015. That would essentially account for $16 million in one year.
Bottom line: They paid 100 percent of top dollar for a player who has played 80 percent of the games in his career (missing the rest with either an injury or a suspension) and who hasn't played a full 16-game season in any of his six years in the NFL.