There is a lot of talk about this being Aqib Talib’s last year with the Broncos; however, he has three years left on his contract. So what does this talk actually mean?
Simply put, on paper, the Broncos would save ten or eleven million dollars by cutting him depending on how they accounted for his dead money. All his guaranteed money has been paid out. This basically puts him on a year by year deal because they can cut him at anytime and gain more than they lose financially.
He won’t get cut right now because he’s not only the best CB in Denver, but also the league. He’s the heart, soul and fire on defense. Sure Von Miller is a beasty beast player, but it’s Aqib who I’d want on my side in a losing game. I love him and will break down the glass walls at Dove Valley, kidnap The Duke and force him to listen to me sing Lynyrd Skynyrd until he brings him back.
However, he’s 31. This is when even the best start a decline, injury and age catch up. He will be bucking the odds at 34 to continue to play at this elite level when his contract is up. It’s doubtful he’ll see another team.
What Denver could do is offer him a new contract, by bundling what’s left and then spread it out over three years. Aqib could be offered, say 20M, guarantee half and spread the hit out. This saves Denver 10M, lessons the cap hit and Talib bags money he most likely would not see because he won’t be starting.
Denver could also rework his contract by converting $10 million of his ’17 base salary into a signing bonus and spread that out over three years. They could attach a roster bonus to his deal that would give Talib more cash in 2017, give Denver more cap space and lower his final two years to help keep him on the team as his role might shift. They could add a guaranteed base salary for next year if they were sure he would be on the roster.
With Bradley Roby in the wings, Denver already has a replacement being groomed, same for Doss and Langley. Often cornerbacks that age or decrease their skills are moved to safety. With Justin Simmons and Will Parks set to take over when Darian Stewart and TJ Ward’s contracts expire, there’s little chance Talib will want to be a back-up safety.
As you can see, it’s past 1 June; however, that doesn’t mean much because a new contract can be done any time, as long as it occurs only once in a calendar year.
Elway holds all cards because next year at 32, Aqib’s value to other teams could drop dramatically. This is why a deal could be made that helps both Denver and Talib. Only three teams have two CB’s in the top 20 highest paid. Denver, Oakland and Atlanta.
Next season, Bradley Roby is due 8.5 million. Denver isn’t likely going to carry all three, Harris, Talib and him at the full contract prices. This leaves a few options on the table.
Option 1: They keep the contract as is for 2017. Then look at it next season because Mike Sullivan, the cap guru, and John Elway are masters at getting the most bang for their buck. Paying Aqib fully for the next three years, isn’t.
Option 2: Cut Talib now. Save 28 overall. That’s not going to happen, unless during TC and pre-season he decreases his output and Roby does a lot better and the same for Lorenzo Doss.
Option 3: Redo his contract before September. Offer him a signing bonus that is close to his previous base salary, spread the money out over two years and cut him next year when Roby’s 8+ goes into effect. However, if they were going to do this, they’d let the contract roll out and eat the 1m dead money after cutting him next year. Doing this would only add to the dead money next year. If they have it in their mind this is his last year, they likely won’t address the contract.
Option 4: Redo his contract before September. Offer him a two year contract, but keep him at limited snaps as he, CHJ and Roby share duties. His salary would be split in 2018 so that he and Roby together equal his 11M salary. Include a 500,000 bonus for winning a Super Bowl. Because there isn’t anyone else like him on the team and because Denver does use nickle often, this could be the best for everyone involved.
Option 5: Redo his contract before September. Offer him a three year contract to spread the hit out over. Pay him like Option 4.
These are five options that could be tweaked, Option 4 is the closest deal that could realistically benefit both Aqib and the Broncos the most. One thing that seems least likely is the contract staying as is.