Now that the New England Patriots and their fans have had some time to digest yet another agonizing playoff loss, it is time to look ahead to the offseason. In March, the Patriots will have several key decisions to make regarding their personnel. Perhaps the most important choice they will need to make will be what to do with shutdown CB Aqib Talib.
Talib will be a free agent in March and given the way he has played when healthy for the Patriots, he will almost certainly want a pay raise. With that said, the Patriots may not be so inclined to fulfill that request. There is a legitimate chance that he no longer plays for the team next season, especially given the depth the team now has at cornerback in Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington and Justin Green.
The Patriots are known for nickel-and-diming their players in free agency as of late. For example, the Pats lost Wes Welker last year for only $2 million over two years to the Denver Broncos, coincidentally the same team that eliminated them from Super Bowl contention yesterday. New England has a reputation of walking away from players they don’t have 100 percent confidence in as well, and reports did surface last year that the team was concerned with Talib’s work ethic.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Talib has not been reliable in terms of his health. He has missed the better part of two playoff games the last two years, both New England losses. Had he been healthy and playing in both of those contests, the team may have an extra ring or two to add to its resume. Instead, New England has been left to wonder what might have been.
It is fair to wonder whether the team thinks he is soft and whether he can be trusted moving forward. After all, if you essentially “quit” on your team in the biggest games, what does that say about your toughness both physically and mentally?
Talib also has well-documented character concerns that could rear their ugly heads at any moment. He has been involved in gun allegations and has had other personal issues crop up in his life. While he has been clean (at least that we know of) so far with the Patriots, we all know that it takes just one slip-up for the team to potentially lose him.
The Pats could decide to slap the franchise tag on him, but doing so would cost them approximately $12.25 million according to russellstreetreport.com. That figure may simply be too steep for the Pats to pay a guy with chronic hip issues and alleged work ethic questions. For those reasons, the Pats may decide to part ways with the talented but injury-prone cornerback come March.