Prior to the 2011 season, Bill Belichick's New England Patriots acquired two players with character concerns, Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco. Neither is still with the team (or in the NFL, for that matter). Before Thursday's trade deadline, the Patriots acquired cornerback Aqib Talib, who had well-documented issues during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will the Talib-Belichick marriage work, or will it blow up in the Patriots' face?
Once a problem, always a problem: Talib will be a headache in New England, tooUltimately, players don't change. I would not have drafted Aqib Talib based on his problems in college. He had issues on the Bucs and will have issues in the future.
This trade immediately raises one big question: Will the Pats sign Talib to an extension? He is due to hit free agency after this season. Signing him to an extension is a big risk.
On paper, Talib instantly becomes the Patriots' best cornerback. But how fast can he learn New England's complex defensive system? I think it will take time. Bill Belichick knows this and will try to find a way to get him on the field. Talib might be able to help this team in the short term, but ultimately he will cause problems.
With minimal downside, Talib a worthwhile acquisition for cornerback-needy PatsThe gambles on Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth proved costly for the Patriots, both in time and money. When both went bust, it left one thinking about the moves they didn't make in the 2011 offseason, and the money they could have spent elsewhere. The trade for Aqib Talib is nothing like that.
Cornerback is a position of need for New England. Talib comes cheap and there are no strings attached. The Patriots didn't sacrifice resources to get him, other than a draft pick. If this doesn't work out -- or if Talib gets into trouble -- the Pats can cut him. Simple as that. That's why, even if Talib runs afoul on or off the field, it won't blow up in New England's face. He'll just be gone.
Trade makes sense from on-field perspective, despite Talib's red flagsThis trade makes perfect sense from an on-field perspective. Bill Belichick has always put a high value on ball skills in the secondary and Talib is outstanding in that area. The Patriots have always been willing to take risks when it comes to character. A lot of attention has been placed on the failed aquisitions of Ochocinco and Haynesworth but they hit a home run when they selected Aaron Hernandez, who had red flags on him coming out of Florida.
I think this trade for Talib carries some risk but the potential payoff makes it a smart gamble.
Belichick's personnel gambles are hit or miss, but this one seems like a no-brainerIn Aqib Talib, we have our latest example that Bill Belichick runs the show in New England. Few coaches are willing -- or able -- to take chances on players with Talib's background. Belichick answers only to owner Robert Kraft, and the three-time Super Bowl champ has proven adept at convincing Kraft to take chances on players.
Sometimes, it's worked (see: Corey Dillon). Sometimes, you end up with Albert Haynesworth.
Talib is only 26 years old and hits free agency in 2013. He has a half season to prove to the Patriots -- and to the rest of the NFL -- that he's worthy of a big contract.
For a team with title aspirations, this is a chance worth taking.
Pats desperate to fortify pass defense, but Talib expectations should be temperedThis isn't the old New England Patriots turning a lump of coal into a diamond.
If the Patriots made this move five years ago, we would say, "Well, there's Bill Belichick, who can find a home for anyone and turn them into a productive player," and we'd laud his genius. But as we've seen, once he ran out of studs on the defensive side of the football, he became less of a genius. His recent history is full of both hits (drafting Vince Wilfork and Chandler Jones) and misses (signing Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, trading Richard Seymour). If Talib can finally behave, the Patriots get a steal. If he can't? New England essentially swapped a fourth-round pick for a seventh-rounder. It's no different than if any other team had made this move. New England's pass defense is atrocious, so the Pats had to do something. This was one of those "Why not? We're desperate!" moves, so let's temper expectations. Talib will help, but he hasn't played in a month due to suspension and now he must soak up a brand new scheme. It's a Band-Aid for 2012.