On February 2, the Broncos learned the hard way the importance of having a top-flight secondary. To repeat a Groundhog Day-style repeat of what happened on Groundhog Day, they spent the first day of free agency spending on help for the last line of defense.
Not long after the market opened, the Broncos added safety T.J. Ward. Then came the stunner: Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, knocked out of the AFC title game by a supposed cheap shot from Denver receiver Wes Welker, has joined the three-time defending AFC West champs.
The bogarting by the Broncos of Talib becomes one of the most fascinating developments of the day, for plenty of reasons beyond the fact that Talib, who tested positive for marijuana multiple times in college at Kansas, will now live in a state where the substance is legal for recreational use.
First, the money paid to Talib — reportedly $57 million over six years with $26 million guaranteed — takes the Broncos out of the running for Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, who’ll be cut Wednesday if not traded before then.
Second, the move puts even more pressure on the Patriots to make a play for Revis.
Third, perhaps the decision of New England coach Bill Belichick to publicly cry foul about Welker’s hit on Talib was aimed at souring Talib on the possibility of signing with the Broncos.
Fourth, the Patriots never could have given Talib the contract he has received in Denver, not in the wake of the decision to give millions to tight end Aaron Hernandez months before he landed in jail while awaiting murder charges. While Talib has been a model citizen since being traded from Tampa to New England in 2012, concerns linger regarding his temper and demeanor in the locker room and on the practice field. Then there’s the lingering concern that Talib doesn’t show up in big games.
For the Broncos, it doesn’t matter. They needed to go all in if they want to win a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning still on the team, and the only real chance to begin closing that 35-point gap with the Seahawks comes via the available free agents. While Ward and Talib may not be Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, Ward and Talib were the best that Denver could currently do.
And if they can land DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos will be closer to simulating the devastating Seattle front seven.
And if the Broncos sign Vince Young, he can call it a Dream Team.
Actually, this team is less about fulfilling a dream and more about avoiding another February nightmare.