Packers Rumors: Should the Packers Trade for Aqib Talib?
With most of the league now long-eliminated from playoff contention, the NFL’s attention is turning more and more to the offseason and free agency. As a result, teams are beginning to shop players that could be in line for a trip to the chopping block due to their big contracts.
This week, the Denver Broncos made it clear they’d be willing to listen to trade proposals for Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib, whose contract will pay him $20 million over the next two seasons.
At 32, Talib is certainly on the back half of his career, but he’s shown he can still be an effective player. Would it make sense for the Packers to do a deal?
The details on Aqib Talib
Talib has been a wildly successful player for much of his NFL career. He toiled in relative obscurity for his first four years as a pro, piling up 17 interceptions with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before joining the New England Patriots via trade midway through the 2012 season.
The 2013 season marked the first time Talib received any major recognition for his work; he was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time that season and has made the NFL’s annual All-Star game each year after that, including the last four seasons with the Denver Broncos.
In each of his NFL stops, Talib has always been able to get his hands on the football. From his rookie year in 2008 to the present, Talib is one of only eight players to record 30 or more interceptions. He has returned eight interceptions for touchdowns in that span, the most of any player in the league.
Talib is big for a corner at 6-2 and uses his size to smother opposing receivers on the outside. He’s never been known for having great speed but did manage a 4.42 40-yard dash with a home team timer at his collegiate pro day.
What would it take to get Talib?
Though trades involving players have become more common in the past few seasons, trades involving high-level players are still relatively rare and are almost always expensive.
Presumably, the Broncos are looking to trade Talib because of his somewhat onerous contract. He’s scheduled to count $12 million against the cap in 2018. That makes it relatively likely the Broncos would be seeking a player in return unless that player makes significantly less than Talib does right now. Thus, it’s more likely than not that any future trade involving Talib will be for draft picks, not players.
During the 2017 preseason and regular season, there were 30 trades involving one team offering a pick (or multiple picks) and receiving a player in return. Only four of those trades involved a fourth round pick or higher, which should be good news for any team looking to trade for Talib, but likely comes as bad news for the Broncos.
The two most helpful trade models for Talib are the deals involving Kelvin Benjamin and Reggie Ragland. Both trades involved a team giving up some relatively serious draft capital for their trade target despite that target coming with some serious question marks.
Benjamin left the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a third and a seventh round pick from the Buffalo Bills. His case is an interesting study because Buffalo gave up the picks in spite of Benjamin’s knee injury in the prior season, one from which he was still recovering this year. Still, the Bills were willing to give up two draft picks for Benjamin’s services.
Like Benjamin, Ragland also missed the 2016 season with a knee injury and was not yet fully recovered heading into the 2017 season. But knowing that, the Kansas City Chiefs still offered a fourth round pick for the second year linebacker.
With that in mind, it probably wouldn’t be unreasonable for the Broncos to expect as high as a fourth round pick for Talib. Though he’s not coming off any significant injuries, he turns 32 next month and is certainly in the back half of his career.
Does it make sense for the Packers to trade for Talib?
In a vacuum, it probably makes sense for the Packers to at least consider a trade for Talib if he’s available. Mike Pettine’s defense is predicated on stopping the pass and he’s had great success with corners like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in his career as a coordinator. No team can have enough competent corners, and even at his advancing age, Talib is at the very least competent.
The question of cost makes this situation tricky, but perhaps not as much as in past years. The Packers could be uniquely positioned to make a deal like this happen this year.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Packers are projected to receive three compensatory fifth round picks this year for the loss of Micah Hyde, J.C. Tretter, and Jared Cook. Though the picks aren’t announced until February, the Packers could be more willing to make a trade if they’re confident in those pick projections.
What’s more, compensatory picks can now be traded, and if the Broncos hold off on finding a trading partner, the Packers could find themselves flush with tradeable assets in a little more than a month.
The Packers may take the experiences of both teams preparing to play for the Super Bowl as evidence of what a well-timed trade can mean for a team. Both the Patriots and the Eagles have benefited greatly from players acquired in trades, and each team has shown a tremendous willingness to add players in whatever way they can, something Brian Gutekunst has emphasized as a priority.
Talib’s age will always be a sticking point (and a fair one), but if the Packers decide to do a deal, it’s likely they have the capital to make a trade that won’t totally destroy their draft pick stockpile.