Within the next two and a half weeks, it would be in the New England Patriots‘ best interest to come to terms on at least a one-year deal with soon-to-be free agent CB Aqib Talib. Having him on the field immediately eliminates the domination of one premier WR on the opposing team each Sunday during the season. Like every shutdown corner, he’s bound to have an off game every once in a while. But let the numbers speak for themselves.
Talib was outstanding this year on more than one occasion. His passes defended and interception numbers weren’t all that high, but neither were Nnamdi Asomugha‘s when he was considered the best in the business at the CB position. In the 2013 season, Talib held the likes of A.J. Green, Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers), Demaryius Thomas, Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson and Torrey Smith all under 70 yards in their head-to-head match-ups. Wallace and the Miami Dolphins did get the best of Talib and the Patriots in their second match-up, but we’ll let that one slide.
In the playoffs, Talib’s presence, or lack there of, has been detrimental to the Patriots’ success since he joined the team at the trade deadline two seasons ago. Former Baltimore Ravens No. 1 wideout Anquan Boldin torched the Patriots’ secondary in the second half of the 2012 AFC Championship game. In the 2013 AFC Championship game, the aforementioned Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos did the same. The one common factor in those two games: Talib got injured in the second quarter. The Patriots were leading at the half against the Ravens and were within striking distance against the Broncos at the time of Talib’s injury.
The one thing the Patriots don’t ever do is spend money. With DeAngelo Hall (age 32) recently signing a four-year, $17 million contract with the Washington Redskins, Talib (age 28) will for sure be looking for a similar contract. But QB Tom Brady restructured his contract prior to Wes Welker‘s departure to make it easier for the Patriots to spread money around to keep a championship-caliber team on the field. With such a young team, now is the time for the Patriots to sign their top free-agents-to-be and get Brady his last ring, or two, before he retires.
The start of free agency, Mar. 11, 4 p.m. EST, is rapidly approaching, and Talib will assuredly attract plenty of attention from other teams. The Patriots need to act now or risk being an even worse defensive team than they already are, especially in the secondary.