Thursday, November 1, 2012
Rapid reaction: Aqib Talib
By Mike Reiss
Rapid reaction to the Patriots acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib from the Buccaneers:
Half-year rental at reasonable cost. Talib enters the last year of his contract, so the Patriots have a chance to work with him at a reasonable cost. They give up a 2013 fourth-round draft choice, and get Talib and a 2013 seventh-rounder. The Patriots will pay Talib the prorated portion of his $1.825 million base salary. Talib potentially addresses one of the trouble areas on the roster -- the secondary -- as the Patriots have been giving up big plays at an alarming rate this season.
Taller, longer corner. At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Talib is a taller, longer corner than what the Patriots currently have on their roster. He's similar to Ras-I Dowling (now on injured reserve) in terms of physical makeup, so he adds a different type of physical makeup to the mix. He's been known for his coverage and ball skills, with 18 career interceptions.
Is this a Patriots-type player? Talib's talent seldom has been in question (he was a first-round draft choice in 2008), but the off-field component has been. He's been suspended by the NFL twice, and teams had questions about him in this area coming out of Kansas (link here). The Patriots have taken risks on players in similar situations in the past (e.g., Corey Dillon), and it's worked out. They are projecting Talib will fall in line in their business-like culture.
McCourty could stay at safety. Talib's presence provides more flexibility for the Patriots from a personnel perspective. If the coaching staff envisions cornerback Devin McCourty as a better fit at safety -- where he's played the past two games because of injuries to others -- the Pats now add another proven cornerback to the mix in Talib to take his place. Or perhaps they have more concern with the No. 2 cornerback spot and envision a McCourty/Talib pairing. This adds another puzzle piece as Bill Belichick attempts to fix a secondary that has struggled for long stretches in 2012.