KUSA—Bronco fans won’t be surprised by this but Aqib Talib is going out battling.
The Broncos are actively shopping Talib, a team source told 9NEWS.
But as a cornerback who was named to the Pro Bowl each of his four seasons with the Broncos, Talib is communicating just enough resistance to have a say in where he is traded.
Broncos’ general manager John Elway and San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch were engaged in trade talks about Talib, according to the source.
It’s unclear how close to an agreement on compensation had been reached, but the parties appeared to be making progress until the cornerback balked.
ESPN first reported the possible Talib trade to San Francisco but that he declined and stated a preference of returning to the New England Patriots – where he played before signing a six-year, $57 million contract with the Broncos in March 2014.
Talib has been a great Bronco and he’s still one of the league’s top cornerbacks but perhaps he could benefit by taking a longer-termed view.
The 49ers are an up-and-coming team with a hot, young, Patriot-trained quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and a hot, young coach in Kyle Shanahan.
The Patriots have arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time in Tom Brady but he will play at 41 years old this season and there has been speculation head coach Bill Belichick is getting close to retirement.
Still, New England is one of several teams the Broncos have engaged in Talib trade talks. Although the Broncos hope to deal Talib by the start of free agency next Wednesday, there is no rush to move him because none of his remaining contract is guaranteed until 53-man rosters are set on September 1.
The trade market appears strong enough for Talib that the Broncos are not expected to release him, as he may hope. Officially, Talib has no say in whether he is traded or to whom.
But as a practical matter, Talib has leverage because no team would want to surrender a player or draft pick as compensation unless the player they are trading for is happy with the arrangement.
Besides stating a team preference, Talib may also be seeking a new contract. He currently has a non-guaranteed $11 million salary in 2018 and $8 million in 2019 for an average of $9.5 million per year.
There are 13 cornerbacks who make more with Josh Norman topping the list with $15 million a year.
Then again, those 13 corners are between two and six years younger than Talib so it's no certainty he would get a more lucrative deal than what he has left on his current one.