Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Making the biggest splash of the day by the league's 4 p.m. trade deadline, the New England Patriots go bold and bolster their secondary with the acquisition of CB Aqib Talib.
Talib, 26, was one of the highest rated cornerbacks in the 2008 NFL Draft coming out of Kansas. The Buccaneers selected him 20th overall that year and he has stuck as of the team's premier defenders since, recording 18 interceptions in the early goings of his career.
Once you delve in a little deeper, however, this move smacks of the Patriots. Talib is an undeniably incredible talent, but has quite the extensive rap sheet when it comes to off-the-field conduct. Talib got into a fistfight with Cory Boyd during a rookie symposium in 2008, was arrested for beating a taxi driver in 2009, and was served with a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2011. This season, Talib is one game shy from completing a four-game suspension imposed by the league for taking Adderall without a prescription which falls under the league's strict policy on performance enhancing drugs.
The Patriots have won some and lost some when it comes to taking chances on troubled talents, but they typically leave themselves with all the leverage; it's not known what the Patriots gave up to acquire Talib, but it's likely not much more than a late-round pick, making this one of their patented low-risk, high-reward scenarios. The most glaring examples of these backfiring would be the acquisitions of Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Adalius Thomas, but are balanced by the shrewd grabs of Corey Dillon and Randy Moss which immediately payed dividends and afforded the team a couple of Super Bowl berths.
Talib will have to serve one more game of suspension with the Patriots before he can see the field, which he will need to learn the various schemes and terminology of playing in a brand new defense. The bye week shouldn't hurt, either.
What'll be interesting to monitor going forward is how the Patriots plan to use Talib. There's a strong possibility he will end up starting opposite Devin McCourty at cornerback, but there's also a possibility that this move is intended for Talib to start opposite Alfonzo Dennard with Devin McCourty at free safety while Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory continue to heal. Legal dilemmas aside, one thing is for certain; the Patriots have just acquired a fearsome talent for their secondary, and if Talib can keep his nose clean and fall in line with "The Patriot Way," they may have just finally stabilized--and strengthened--their biggest weakness.