The New England Patriots have a lot of free agents that they need to make tough decisions on this offseason. Some should stay, some must stay and some are destined to be playing in new uniforms come next fall. But one player that the team must keep in New England is cornerback Aqib Talib.
Talib, one of the best cover corners in the NFL, is about as valuable a commodity as you can find in the league. He is one of the three or four guys truly capable of shutting down an elite receiver by himself. That gives the Patriots the ability to do so much more on defense than they would be able to without him.
By not needing to constantly zone cover receivers, New England can devote more players to the pass rush or to keeping a man over the top and making sure they don’t get beat deep. More and more in the league today teams are having success with defenses that begin with good cover corners; just ask the Seattle Seahawks .
Sure, Talib is going to cost a lot of money to keep him in town. Other teams know just how valuable he is too, but that shouldn’t keep the Patriots from investing in him. His injury history is troubling, but it’s more bad luck than anything else. If he can stay healthy — and that certainly is a big if at this point — he’ll be worth every dollar they will need to spend on him.
For the first time in a decade the Patriots have a chance to bring back a better defense than offense. But that defense will only be good enough to carry them to the playoffs if they keep Talib and his elite cover skills on the roster.