Commentary | Denver Broncos will regret choosing Aqib Talib over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

adell@bradenton.comMarch 13, 2014 

Redskins Broncos Football

Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) returns an interception for a touchdown Oct. 27 against the Washington Redskins. Rodgers-Cromartie, who played at Lakewood Ranch High, is back in the Super Bowl. ASSOCIATED PRESS


It will take time for the conspiracy theorists to decipher what happened with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

What is easy is to determine is that's it's not a good idea to test the patience of Denver Broncos executive John Elway.

Lakewood Ranch's favorite son, DRC was on the cusp of signing his biggest NFL contract, and before you could say Aqib Talib it was pulled it off the table.

DRC was the top cornerback on the Broncos' Super Bowl team last year. Heading into free agency, he was considered the secondary's top priority, even generating talk he would get the franchise tag.

There were serious negotiations that reached a stalemate Tuesday on the first day of free agency. Then Talib signed a deal with the Broncos, and DRC was floating in space.

Rodgers-Cromartie is disappointed and didn't want to comment.

He should not get too down because you can make the argument he is more valuable than Talib or Darrelle Revis, who agreed to a one year contract worth $12 million with New England on Wednesday.

Consider this: DRC is bigger, faster and less injury-prone than either Talib or Revis. And unlike Talib, he doesn't have a mountainous cache of personal baggage.

Talib signed a six-year, $57 million deal with $26 million guaranteed, which is not a gaudy number, even for the injury-prone 28-year-old.

It's hard to argue that Talib is better than DRC. Talib has never played a full 16-game season because of injuries, drug suspension and reckless behavior that includes beating up a cab driver.

DRC has played in every game in four of his six seasons (that is 92 out of 96). Revis has played in 95 out of 112.

Maybe Talib is more physical and that is what intrigued Elway after the Broncos were bullied by the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

The 6-foot-2, 182-pound DRC runs a 4.29-second 40-yard dash, faster than either Talib or Revis.

In fact, Talib is on the slow side and has been known to get beat on the home run ball. He is physical, but got knocked out of a playoff game last year by little Wes Welker.

DRC ranked fifth among all cornerbacks, according to ProFootballFocus, and had shown remarkable improvement after a disappointing 2012 season.

Last season, he was the second-toughest cornerback to complete a pass against, allowing only 30 receptions.

So what happened?

There is talk DRC asked for too much money.

There is speculation that his talk of retiring at the Super Bowl scared some of the Broncos hierarchy from offering him a contract with a huge signing bonus. Instead, they reportedly offered him deal similar to Talib, but with fewer guarantees.

But maybe the real answer lies with Elway.

He was tough as nails on the field in quarterbacking the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles with a reputation that you never get over on him.

Maybe he is stubborn or that loss to Seattle has clouded his judgment.

Among the possible landing spots for DRC are Oakland, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Minnesota and Cincinnati.

Oakland, Jacksonville and Cleveland have a generous amount of cap space. The Browns are intriguing because he could be pared with Joe Haden giving the team one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.

Things are far from over for Rodgers-Cromartie.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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