A few days ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a sizable blow by losing corner-back Aqib Talib to a four game suspension for taking Adderall without a prescription. Talib received his first disciplinary action by the league in 2010 after striking a cab driver, which resulted in a one game suspension.
There have been several other behavioral issues involving Talib since his career in the NFL began. During the Rookie Symposium, he got into an altercation with a teammate, but the “Buc” didn’t stop there. In 2011, he took off his helmet and swung it at Donald Penn; he missed and accidentally struck Elbert Mack, which sent Mack to the hospital for stitches.
From violent fits, and a shooting incident that he somehow escaped without jail time or suspension, the Buccaneers have stood beside him. Up until last week, it looked like he had turned the page from his off-the-field antics, but the latest incident has the fans, and critics calling for Talib’s head.
One thing we know right now, is that the Buccaneers aren’t going to release him this season. Coach Greg Schiano has affirmed in multiple press conferences that when his suspension is over, Talib will have a place on the team. The question that everyone is asking, however, is if he’ll be a Buccaneer after this year?
It’s evident that the Bucs still have a glaring need at the cornerback position. Even if Talib is to return, they only have one true starting corner in Eric Wright, but laterally, there are a series of guys who have potential, but can’t be trusted to start on a weekly basis. E.J. Biggers was called upon to replace Talib in the starting lineup, and while he looked good against the Kansas City Chiefs, a much more daunting task comes into town this week with Drew Brees, and the New Orleans Saints.
All things considered, corners like Talib are rare. With a frame exceeding six feet tall and a good size, Talib has a very unique skill set which includes great ball handling. In his five years, he has 18 interceptions. The problem with Talib is he will demonstrate that he’s a lock down corner one week, but get torched the next. He’s a gambler, but some corners make a living doing that. So, should Talib stay with the team?
While there is no definitive answer to this, my answer would be yes. Talib created a monumental situation for himself, as he is in the last year of his contract. The Buccaneers have obviously tolerated Talib’s behavior thus far, but now have the advantage when it comes to a new contract.
I have pointed out the skill that general manager Mark Dominik has when it comes to writing and negotiating these contracts. Now he has the opportunity to create one that is incentive based, and dependent on his ability to stay out of trouble. This could make it so that if Talib does get into any varying degree of trouble, he can be released with a contingency that he stands to lose some of the guaranteed money the Buccaneers give him.
If you ask the team and coaches, all of them will tell you he’s a great teammate who gives 110% on the field. Unfortunately, a player with annual suspensions can’t be guaranteed on that field, but with a contract looming, and the support group he has with team mates and coaches, I think it’s possible that Talib could stay a Buccaneer.