The Minnesota Vikings had nowhere to go but up defensively after a dismal 2011 season, and they did make some positive strides on that side of the ball during the 2012 season despite intercepting just 10 passes. The most notable improvement was made in scoring defense, as they finished tied for 14th (21.8 points per game) after finishing 31st in 2011 (28.1 points per game).
A lack of depth in the secondary, in particular at cornerback, was exposed when Chris Cook missed six games with a broken arm and Antoine Winfield’s effectiveness was limited by a hand injury late in the season. There are certainly bigger areas of need elsewhere on the roster, but the Vikings can’t have enough capable cornerbacks with the talented wide receivers they have to contend with in the NFC North. So is there a veteran out there that might be a good fit?
Aqib Talib’s name cannot be mentioned without citing his off-field issues since entering the NFL as a first-round pick (20th overall) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. His most recent issue came this past season, when he was suspended for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs after reportedly testing positive for Adderall. That suspension may have been a last straw for the Buccaneers and first-year head coach Greg Schiano, as he was traded to the New England Patriots in exchange for a fourth-round pick in this April’s draft on November 1.
Talib played his first game for the Patriots in Week 11 against the Indianapolis Colts, and made an instant impact with a 59-yard interception return for a touchdown. He helped solidify a struggling New England pass defense down the stretch, helping the team earn the AFC’s second seed in the playoffs along the way. When he suffered a right thigh injury during this past weekend’s AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens, the game took a turn for the worse for the Patriots and ended in a 28-13 loss.
Talib is slated to become a free agent this offseason, and a return to New England is not out of the question. But his past issues, and the possibility of future league discipline with another transgression, make it unlikely he can get a lucrative long-term deal from anyone. That also means a lot of teams may have interest if the soon to be 27-year old (February 13) can be signed to a one-year deal.
I think the Vikings should be among the teams in line to make an offer to Talib when he hits the open market. There is some risk involved if he can’t stay off the police blotter and out of commissioner Roger Goodell’s office, but any interested team should be in a position of power as Talib looks to re-establish his value around the league.