As the Denver Broncos back up the truck in attempt to topple Father Time, they decided to use the first day of the 2014 NFL free agency window to dump a ton of money into their defensive backfield. While they added TJ Ward, prying the hard-hitting safety from the claws of Browns fans, the deal that may ultimately impact Cleveland more is the six-year, $57 million contract given to cornerback Aqib Talib, $26 million of which is guaranteed.
When he’s not getting abused by Josh Gordon, Talib has turned a career of off-field issues into one that features him as one of the better press-coverage cornerbacks in football. For his efforts, Talib was seeking a deal worth between $9-10 million per season—and he got just that.
Earlier this offseason, WFNY estimated that Haden would draw somewhere in that $10 million range, placing him above other recently signed cornerbacks like Dallas’ Brandon Carr and Kansas City’s Brandon Flowers. Sportrac’s recent forecast pegged Haden as drawing a four-year, $35 million deal which, following Tuesday afternoon, could (rightfully) be laughed out of the room save for any sort of hometown discount.
Talib, the new benchmark for cornerback contracts, finished 2013 as Pro Football Focus’ 58th-best back, largely a product of his run defense and penchant to not draw penalty flags. Joe Haden finished 18th, one season after finishing in the top 20.
[Related: NFL Free Agency Notebook: First Impressions]
Image: Candice Vlcek/WFNY