- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let’s be very clear from the start that no charges have been filed. But there are reports Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib is a “person of interest’’ in a March 21 incident in Texas in which gunshots reportedly were fired.
Again, Talib has not been arrested and the investigation is ongoing. But even the hint of Talib possibly being involved in something like this has to have the Buccaneers upset and nervous.
Talib is one of the most talented young cornerbacks in the league and coaches and scouts from all over will tell you he has many moments when he plays at a Pro Bowl level. But Talib’s short career already has been marred by a history of trouble.
He got into a fight with a teammate at the 2008 rookie symposium. In a 2009 minicamp, he got into a fight with a teammate, swung his helmet and wound up hitting another player in the face. Talib also was suspended for the first game of last season as punishment for a 2009 incident with a cab driver.
The Bucs declined comment, which is understandable since there hasn’t been an arrest and the current labor lockout prevents them from having any contact with Talib or any of their players. Like the rest of us, the Bucs will have to wait to see how this sorts out. Even if the Bucs wanted to take a proactive move and discipline or release Talib, they can’t do it now due to the lockout.
You can bet the Bucs and the NFL will be keeping a close eye on this if it develops into anything more significant. There can be no suspensions during the lockout, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during last week’s NFL owners meeting that players’ actions during the lockout will be subject to disciplinary action when the labor situation is resolved.
With one suspension already under his belt, Talib could face a longer suspension. As the Buccaneers prepare for the draft, this could impact their strategy and the secondary could become a bigger priority.
Safety Tanard Jackson already is serving a one-year suspension and isn’t eligible to apply for reinstatement until late September. The Bucs have some promising young players in cornerbacks E.J. Biggers, Elbert Mack and Myron Lewis and safeties Cody Grimm and Corey Lynch, but the possibility of being without their two best players in the secondary could change their thinking.