The New England Patriots got Aqib Talib for nothing, and nearly got him back a bunch of times.
The Patriots have run back the same formula for acquiring talent time and time again: take advantage of the league’s ne’er-do-wells and try to steal disgruntled players from downtrodden organizations.
And, for some reason, it especially helps to plunder from Tampa Bay.
Just over a year prior to New England’s signing of Darrelle Revis after he was unceremoniously cut one year in to a mega-deal in Tampa, the Pats tested the waters, adding DB Aqib Talib in November of 2012, while giving up very little in exchange.
New England sent a fourth-round pick to the Bucs, and received Talib and a seventh-rounder to revitalize their playoff push. Those picks amounted to very little (the Pats added Michael Buchanan; Tampa took William Gholston), but Talib more than did his job during a short sprint to the finish.
In 2012, Talib tallied a single pick in New England in six games played — a 59-yard pick six in his Pats debut against Andrew Luck and the Colts. At the time, his arrival was met with skepticism — after all, Talib was coming off a four-game banned substance suspension, and fought with teammates on multiple occasions.
The Patriots were banking on their culture changing Talib’s attitude and, as usual, it worked. In 2013, his only full season in New England, he was named a second-team All Pro by the AP. Though he left in free agency, Talib still kept connecting himself to openings with the Pats as the years passed.
In 2018, as a Broncos cut loomed, Talib floated a return to New England.
He nearly maneuvered his way back to the East Coast again in late 2018 — the Broncos moved his contract to the Los Angeles Rams, but the Patriots were also involved up until the final bell, and defeated his Rams in the Super Bowl (as they often do).
Though Talib’s Broncos tormented the Patriots for a large portion of his contract in Denver, he was an integral part to two Pats postseason runs, and got his career rehabilitated in New England.
And yes, he was bought for a song. Thanks, Tampa. As always.