Should the Green Bay Packers target All-Pro cornerback Aqib Talib in a trade?
Cantankerous cornerback Aqib Talib has been called many things during the course of his pro career, but no one can deny his standing as one of the premiere players at his position and, if reports are accurate, he will soon be hitting the trade market.
One of many teams that should at least be considering making a move for the soon-to-be 32-year-old lockdown defender is the Green Bay Packers, whose front office is saddled with the tall task of resurrecting an anemic defense that has surrendered the 22nd and 26th most points to the opposition over the past two seasons.
While the former Super Bowl Champion and five-time Pro Bowler still has plenty to offer despite his advanced age, the right to secure his services comes at a hefty price: one or more draft picks and a $12-million salary in 2018.
Many readers may take a quick glance at the price and promptly stop reading this article, but if one takes a closer look at what the NFL’s top veteran cover men are grossing on yearly basis, they may be slightly taken aback at the fact that the likes of Patrick Peterson, Stephon Gilmore and other “A”-list corners are earning anywhere between $10 and $17 million.
And for those who may be averse to coughing up draft capital, the Broncos primary reason in cutting ties with the 2008 first-round pick isn’t to recoup a bounty of draft choices, but rather to cut salary in hopes of possibly landing an upgrade at quarterback in free agency.
Considering that Talib probably has no more than two or three supreme years left in his body, it would be downright appalling, furthermore, to see any organization pony up anything more than a fifth-round pick for the charter member of the No Fly Zone.
So, what exactly would the Packers be getting if they opted to make Talib the object of their desire?
The 6-foot-2 defender has arguably been Denver’s second-best player over the past two seasons, ranking first and 13th among cornerbacks in pass coverage in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
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Despite his length, Talib has proven just as effective against quicker receivers as he has versus bigger pass catchers and has the elite ball skills that make him certified change changer, as evidenced by his half-dozen pick-sixes during his four-year tenure as a Bronco.
But reading what coaches, including five-time Super Bowl Champion Bill Belichick, have said about him in the past can allow fans to truly appreciate just how special the Cleveland-born athlete is among his cornerback brethren.
In a past media session in which Belichick was breaking down a number of Bronco players, the Patriots’ head coach claimed he had “so much respect” for Talib, exalting his competitiveness, tackling ability and intelligence to bait quarterbacks into making poor decisions.
When you factor in all of his attributes, the grizzled veteran not only qualifies as one of the top handful of shutdown corners in 2018, but one can make the case for Talib being one of the best cover men of all time who will eventually get his day in Canton.
But, of course, any general manager would also need to acknowledge the Big 12 product’s on and off-field peccadillos, including a well-documented brawl that saw Talib trade blows with Michael Crabtree. Though this type of behavior should be frowned upon, it’s what the fiery baller does in his free time that should really concern anyone that may be looking to invest in him.
His transgressions include, a physical altercation with a taxi driver, firing gun shots at his sister’s boyfriend and shooting himself in a Dallas strip club two summers ago.
The other unappealing aspect of consummating a deal for Talib is the fact that the buyer inherits a two-year contract totaling approximately $20 million.
That’s where most GMs will probably draw the line and walk away from negotiating any type of trade since this isn’t a team-friendly agreement they’re looking at due to the $10 million the journeyman is due in his last year.
Look for the Broncos to outright release Talib, which will enable the vested veteran to have the freedom of signing with any team of his liking. And this is when the Packers should work the phones in hopes of securing an incentive-laden one or two-year deal with the mercurial defensive back.
It’s no coincidence that the Broncos finished as the league’s top-ranked pass defense with Talib in the starting lineup in 2015 and 2016. This one-of-a-kind backfield enforcer can have a similar impact in Green Bay, where he would be a significant upgrade over Damarious Randall and/or Davon House and would go on to potentially forming one of the most feared corner duos alongside Kevin King.
Packer backers could soon be equating the acquisition of No. 21 with the free-agent signing of Charles Woodson once upon a time that paved the way for a Lombardi Trophy in 2011.