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What Talib Brings to Broncos

Posted Mar 11, 2014

Independent analyst Andrew Mason takes a closer look at the Broncos' addition of free agent cornerback Aqib Talib.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Well, that should answer the few lingering questions about whether the Broncos are "all in" for 2014.

For the second consecutive year, the Broncos delivered a jolt to the free-agency market -- and did so by taking the top cover cornerback away from the team they beat for the AFC crown, Aqib Talib.

In signing Talib, the Broncos grabbed the most troublesome member of the Patriots' secondary during the teams' two meetings last season. Talib shut down Demaryius Thomas for most of the Patriots' 34-31 win in Week 12, and was not beaten for a significant play until Thomas fought past him for the game-tying touchdown late in regulation.

Talib's presence was illustrated by his absence after he was injured when Wes Welker collided with him in the AFC Championship Game two months later. Without Talib, Peyton Manning was able to dice the Patriots secondary all over the field, and the Broncos sailed to the win.

In leaving the Patriots, Talib departs the place where he turned around his career. The reason why Talib was in New England to begin with was a litany of issues that ranged from an altercation with a teammate to a pair of suspensions, including a four-game ban in 2012 for violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Tampa Bay dealt Talib to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick during the 2012 season.

But in New England, none of those issues arose. His only problems were injury-related -- specifically, a hip problem that hindered him at midseason and led to some performances that were off the standard he set early in the 2013 season. According to various accounts, Talib emerged as a leader in the Patriots' locker room.

If Talib keeps himself on the right track, the Broncos have a fast, physical cornerback who can handle man coverage and help free newly acquired safety T.J. Ward up to lower his shoulder for some big hits.

And while the Broncos took a player from the Patriots, the exchange could work in the reverse. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard was reportedly en route to New England to visit with the Patriots. The dance between the two title contenders continues, and the music is likely to keep playing throughout 2014.