The New England Patriots made the surprise move of the trade deadline by getting the biggest deal done this week. The secondary has now been beefed up with the addition of ultra-talented cornerback Aqib Talib, who could give the Patriots high rewards for a supposed high risk that is actually a low risk.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are continuing to clean up house, as rookie head coach Greg Schiano is getting rid of as many problem players as a he can. Talib is one of those guys, and his suspension ends in Week 10 when the Patriots play their first game after the bye week. The Pats shipped off a mere fourth-rounder to the Bucs for Talib, and they also received a seventh-round pick in return for the half-year rental CB.
It’s a great rental indeed for the Patriots, as they have been struggling with the personnel in the secondary. There weren’t enough players who were good enough in coverage, and the depth at the safety position was especially poor. Guys like Kyle Arrington and Sterling Moore were horrible, but the Pats can now rest easier knowing that they have two talented young corners in Devin McCourty and Talib on the roster.
The only problems with Talib are off-the-field issues and consistency issues, with the former being almost non-existent. It’s just the type of culture that surrounds the New England Patriots, and the fact that he’s only going to be with the Pats for about half the season anyway. Talib does get burned when he trusts in his own ability a bit too much, but he’s more consistent than the players he presents a massive upgrade over on this team.
The only clue that fans had to this type of a deal going down was the release of CB Sterling Moore. It was a bit of a quizzical one, because they signed DB Derrick Martin to “replace” him on the roster. But now, we see that there was a huge reason for the release of Moore. Talib, unlike Moore, is a great pure coverage corner. Moore gets burned far too much and is more of a “playmaking” corner, even though his ball skills are actually worse than Talib.
Patriots fans have a legitimate reason to be afraid of the character concerns, but the good far outweighs the bad. Bill Belichick and the Pats pulled a great trade here, because they basically gave up nothing to get a player who can be a shutdown corner at his best and is now their second most talented player in the secondary. I still think McCourty is better overall and cannot be blamed for the struggles of his teammates, but Talib is almost as good in coverage.
The Buccaneers wanted to get rid of a star player that they were infuriated with, and they at least got something in return. But the Patriots were clearly the major beneficiary here, and they made a huge upgrade at the biggest area of weakness on this team. The New England Patriots are only beginning to play their best football this season, and the addition of Aqib Talib makes them even more scary going forward. This team is the second best in the AFC right now.
The 26-year-old top CB has a lot of upside and could even play himself into a new deal with the Patriots if all goes well. But for now, he gives the team a high amount of talent and allows the Pats to be more versatile in the secondary. They can play McCourty at safety more often if injuries rear their ugly head, and they can also use Tavon Wilson in the “money” role more often. Feisty rookie Alfonzo Dennard can also move into the slot if both McCourty and Talib play outside, so that’s also something to watch for.
This was an incredible trade for the Pats, and I’d give it an “A” overall. There is a lot of reward to be had by acquiring Aqib Talib, and the risk is much lower than some people think. The Patriots also gave up almost nothing to get him, and it was certainly a deadline-day steal for New England.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.