Aqib Talib will no longer be a member of the Patriots.
Talib agreed to a deal with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday the same day the NFL free agency period opened.
The Broncos struck a deal late Tuesday night for cornerback Aqib Talib, paying him an eye-popping $57 million deal over six years, with $26 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. The deal leaves the Patriots without a true No. 1 cornerback on the roster, and most of the top options came off the board Tuesday — Tampa Bay signed Alterraun Verner for $14 million guaranteed, and Indianapolis signed Vontae Davis for $20 million guaranteed.
As for Talib, 28, he had 1½ productive seasons in Foxborough after the Patriots acquired him from Tampa Bay for a fourth-round pick after the Bucs grew weary of his off-field issues. He played in 19 games in two seasons, compiling five interceptions and 16 passes defended while emerging as the team’s best and most physical cornerback. He shined in the early part of 2013, helping shut down elite receivers such as Jimmy Graham, A.J. Green, and Roddy White, but he missed three games with a hip injury and left the AFC Championship game with knee injuries in both seasons.
Talib’s injury history and off-field issues — he had a four-game suspension while with Tampa Bay — scared the Patriots off his asking price. The $26 million guarantee is the highest among all NFL cornerbacks, surpassing the $25.5 million Dallas gave to Brandon Carr. In Denver, Talib will replace departed veteran Champ Bailey and will face the Patriots in Foxborough next season.
Talib became the second prominent free agent to flee the Patriots for the Broncos in as many seasons. Wes Welker joined the Broncos last year after failing to agree to terms with New England. The two were then involved in a collision that knocked Talib out of the Broncos’ AFC championship game victory. Patriots coach Bill Belichick called Welker’s hit on Talib dirty, but the NFL imposed no discipline.
Contributing: Ben Volin