Nov 18, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib (31) returns the punt for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
After the Patriots loss to the Ravens, most Pats fans turned immediately to free agency to begin focusing on the 2013 team. For most of us the three names that come to mind first for the Pats in this years free agency are; Aquib Talib, Wes Welker, and Ed Reed. Talib and Welker are obvious because they were key contributors to this past years Patriots team, but Reed is interesting. He is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best safety’s to ever play the game of football. After the Super Bowl, Reed is a free agent, and with the Pats really needing secondary help, combined with how much Belichick has always loved Reed, it seems like it would be a great fit.
If it came down to making a run at either Aqib Talib or Ed Reed, I think the Patriots should go after Talib. In my opinion Talib makes a bigger and better impact on the Pats defense than Reed would if he were on the team. First, the age factor. This will come into play when talking about a possible contract, the Patriots are not going to give a 34 year old Ed Reed a 5 year deal. They might however offer Talib a deal of that length, and whenever a player is guaranteed financial security, that is always a plus for the team in terms of getting him to sign. Reed is 34 years old and despite what he or his Raven teammates may say, he is getting slower. Talib on the other hand is 26 years old and very athletic, at this point in their careers Talib gets the edge in athleticism and speed. The second thing is the Patriots needs on defense. When Talib was in the game for the end of the season and the beginning of the playoff game against the Ravens, the Pats would and could be more aggressive, which in turn results in more big plays. Talib gives them the ability to leave him on an island on the outside and bring some blitzes to try and force a turnover.
If the Pats were to go after Reed and let Talib walk, then they would most likely have Alfonzo Dennard and Devin McCourty at their two staring cornerback positions. I don’t know about you but that scares me. McCourty has played great at safety and a move back to cornerback I think is a very bad idea. Yes, Reed would be the ‘safety net’ behind them but when your two corners can not cover very well, then safety can not make as many plays. (Although I think Dennard is a very solid corner and can be a great cornerback in this league eventually). Reed would make a lot of ‘exciting’ plays for the Pats, but that is not what they need, they need a guy like Talib that can shut down an opposing teams wide receivers throughout the game. That is what has been missing from the Pats secondary. A starting combination of Talib/Dennard at corner and McCourty/Draft Pick at safety is very solid and could possibly make the Pats secondary go from “weakness” to “strength”. In my opinion having a gambling safety like Reed is great, but right now the Pats need a corner like Talib more than they need someone like an Ed Reed. With an already great front seven, keeping Talib on the back end immediately will put the Pats in a position to make a run to the Super Bowl. In no way am I saying that Ed Reed is not a good safety, he is one of, if not the best of all time but I just think the Patriots would be better off trying to get Talib.