Should the Patriots Re-Sign Aqib Talib?

What does the future hold for Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

Last season, the New England Patriots acquired cornerback Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchanged for a fourth-round pick, then re-signed him to a one-year contract in the offseason. Both decisions, particularly the latter, now appear to be brilliant moves, but the fact remains that the Patriots will now be forced to make a difficult decision about Talib this offseason, where they must choose between re-signing their top option to a massive contract extension or allowing him to depart in free agency. In this article, cases both for and against Talib will be made; leave a comment and let us know what you think should happen this offseason!

The case for Talib:

The case for Talib is relatively easy to make: this season, he has been one of the best man-coverage cornerback in the entire league. Talib is being targeted only once every seven coverage snaps, tied for 17th in the league, and allows just 0.81 yards per snap in coverage, a figure which is tied for ninth in the league. He surrenders a completion once every 17.7 snaps in coverage, ranking third in the league behind only Alterraun Verner and Darrelle Revis. All of these numbers reflect dramatically improved production from New England’s top cornerback, despite the fact that he has been frequently assigned to shadow an opponent’s best receiving option in man coverage on a weekly basis. Those opponents have included some of the league’s best receivers, including the likes of Stevie Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Jimmy Graham. With Talib on the roster, the Patriots can feel comfortable about their ability to limit the production of an opponent’s best option in the passing game.

Talib’s arrival last season also benefited New England in 2012, when the team had previously been unsuccessfully experimenting with a variety of secondary configurations. After acquiring Talib, left cornerback Devin McCourty moved to free safety and became one of the league’s elite players at that position, right cornerback Kyle Arrington moved into the slot, where he has been more comfortable, and Alfonzo Dennard assumed right cornerback responsibilities, emerging as a quality starter in his rookie season. The arrival was particularly important because Bill Belichick and the Patriots had previously struggled to identify quality defensive backs in the draft, missing on cornerbacks such as Ras-I Dowling (second round, 2011), Darius Butler (second round, 2009), and Terrence Wheatley (second round, 2008.) If New England allows Talib to leave in free agency, they will likely have to try their luck again via free agency or the draft, whereas Talib represents more of a known quantity.

Financially, Talib will likely be seeking a deal which pays him among the league’s elite cornerbacks, but his performance in 2013 has justified that cost; should he maintain this level of production, he will be an expense well-worth paying. New England has also managed their salary cap well historically, without many poor investments or players still in need of a contract extension, the only exceptions being middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (whose contract expires at the end of this season) and four starters whose deals expire in 2015, those being running back Stevan Ridley, left tackle Nate Solder, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, and safety Devin McCourty. Essentially, New England could try to fit the brunt of Talib’s cap impact into the next two seasons of his deal, sidestepping the possibility of his contract negatively affecting their ability to extend any of the players listed above, with the exception of Spikes.

The case against Talib:

Over the course of his six-year NFL career, Talib has yet to play in a full season, due to some combination of injuries and time missed due to league-mandated suspensions. Last season, Talib missed six games in total, but also left early in three contests: versus Houston (35/70 snaps), at Jacksonville (eight of eighty snaps), and versus Baltimore in the conference championship (8/74 snaps.) Overall, according to ESPN Boston’s final participation figures, Talib appeared on the field for just 27.5% of New England’s snaps that season, although that number also fails to factor in Talib’s time with Tampa Bay. Those injury concerns have re-emerged this season, as the cornerback has missed the past three games with a hip injury sustained early in the team’s week six contest versus New Orleans.

Talib’s inconsistent play in 2012 also presents a cause for concern. The cornerback was credited with fixing New England’s previously porous secondary, but his metrics suggest that the real reasons for the team’s coverage improvements were a change in playcalling (emphasizing more blitzing and man coverage rather than conservative zone shells), the insertion of Alfonzo Dennard into the starting lineup, and the movement of Kyle Arrington into the slot and Devin McCourty to free safety. That reshuffling was made possible because of Talib, but could continue if the Patriots were to simply start 2012 third-round pick Logan Ryan at left cornerback, or acquire another starter via the draft or free agency. Talib was the tied for the 15th-most-frequently targeted cornerback as a Patriot in 2012, surrendering the fifth-most yards per snap in coverage and tying for the 13th-highest rate of completions per snap in coverage.

Re-signing Talib will likely force the Patriots to pay him a premium price given his physical tools and his level of play this season. However, it’s possible that Talib, who has never played so well before, will be unable to sustain his production into the future; this may well be an outlier which is not necessarily indicative of what to expect from him moving forwards. Whether due to declining effort, injury, or the unsustainability of his 2013 performances, it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the Patriots would be paying Talib for one unusual season which happened in a contract year. Teams have frequently been burned in the past by rewarding a one-year wonder with a contract which does not factor in previous struggles. Also, how will Talib’s work ethic be affected by the financial security a lucrative multi-year deal offers him?

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26 Responses to “Should the Patriots Re-Sign Aqib Talib?”

  1. Marco Clarke says:

    resign at almost any cost just remind him of his injury history and draft a corner who can replace Arrington who I’m Sure is a great guy but I hate him as a player last year it Seemed as if he was elite in the Slot but he looked everything but elite against Jermey Kurley of the Jets and last week against the Steelers and on a Side note I hope they resign Spikes granted his lack of Speed holds him back in coverage but he’s great at everything else and we need Someone that ferocious manning the middle

  2. JMC says:

    No doubt Talib is better as a Patriot than another place- that he has the same injury as last year in the playoffs is worrisome- I wouldn’t break the bank for him or make a deal longer than 3 years or guarantees, but to not sign him, you will need to get a replacement-

  3. Chuck says:

    Parcells was famous for saying “you can’t help the club from the tub”, so whatever gold the elite guy is worth, give it a discount because he’s not capable of being there over 22 weeks and/or 19 games. Michael Vick comes to mind as a guy who teams are enamored with but who simply requires another class A backup plan when the inevitable injury strikes. If you “pay the man”, you better fund a backup as well.

  4. Pats Fan says:

    Hopefully they resign Talib to a reasonable extension . If not he will get franchised which would cost them more.

  5. acm says:

    They should and would try their best to bring Talib back but not at any cost. His injury history would definitely come into play in determining his value on the market – guy has a well-documented problem staying on the field, always with the same type of injuries – hip or hamstring. That cannot be scratched off to bad luck but rather constitutes a pattern.
    Anyways, his value, or rather asking price, will also be determined by the market. Let’s hope it’s another down off-season for DBs and with the string of serious injuries this year, maybe Talib would rather not take the risk of remaining without a cushiony, long-term deal this time around.

    Either way, with or without Talib, hope they focus on big, physical CBs in the draft this year, with guys like Ryan, Dennard and Arrington already on the team.

    • steve earle says:

      With out a doubt reasonable is the key word with all contracts including Talib’s. I’m in the want him back camp but am realistic about it. Still think BB should draft another CB and a SS next spring. Thinking Darquese Dennard and Ahmad Dixon might be around for Bill to take after the first round. Like what I read about both.

  6. dslave says:

    Itotally think they tag him and play the Welker game. There is no way they let him walk without anything. He’s fit bin extremely well here and seems to like it here.They may have finally turned the corner and actually MAY have drafted some players that are GOOD players in the secondary.BUT THEY NEED THAT SHUT DOWN CORNER that this defense needs.Chandler Jones is evolving into a dominate defensive player they can build around. Its year to year with Talib . That’s how they roll.

  7. Henry Carmen says:

    Seeing that he has been the best player on the team this year, yeah I think it might be-you know- a pretty smart idea to-i dont know- resign him?

  8. rmc says:

    With the Pats poor history of drafting of CB’s, i think it is imperative to sign him. He is a mentor to Dennard and Logan Ryan and has more practical experiance in the position than his position coach. Everyone keeps bringing up his off field troubles, but since joing the Pats, he hasn’t had one bit of trouble. I believe being on a winning team, around guys that have the same goal does that (not including hernandez). The only issue i see is his health, that is a concern. But we cannot have anymore of Arrington attempting to play outside.

    • steve earle says:

      Your right in thinking we should resign Talib, imo. Points are sound, as for health every player gets hurt one time or another, matter of degrees and no reason to cut ties unless someone like Downing who could never stay healthy. Best scenario would be resign him then draft another CB to challange Arrington. Nice pick might be Darquese Dennard. Russell notes the pay going out but still pretty early to be talking that it seems to me, those things change nearly every year. Players come and go, guys retire, who knows? Sure Bill can find a way to fit our best CB in.

  9. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    From a personel managers point of view, lets look at some Patriot AVG. yearly Salaries;
    Tom 14 mil.
    Gronk,6.9 mil.
    Mankins 8.5 mil.
    Mayo 7.1 mil.
    Wilfork 8 mil.
    Vollmer 4.1 mil.
    Arrington 4 mil.
    Amendola 5.7 mil.
    Talib, 4.8 mil.
    A rookie CB drafted in 2014, will cost about 1.2 mil. a year depending on which round he is selected. So the smart move is to resign Talib, IF the Patriots can get him for say; 7.5 mil. a year for 3 years. AND draft a CB or two this year (2014), for depth, youth, and giving them time to learn the system.
    It’s also important to note, that teams will be studing tape the more Talib plays in the Patriot system. There will be weakness seen, and used in future game plans, to beat Talib, as with any CB in the NFL.
    If Talib is gone, then the new CB will be studied by other teams, and Bill may change-up his system. If some team is willing to pay Talib say 10 mil. a year, No-way the Patriots match that. They could put the “tag” on Talib, for next year, which could cost about est. 7-8 mil.
    So I think the Patriots make Talib a good offer, and let him go if another team pays him more. Champ Bailey is getting 8 mil. a year, and Revis is 4.5 mil. a year.

    • steve earle says:

      Lots of if’s and maybes about Talib. My thinking is make every reasonable effort to resigh him, put some kind of tag on him if they can’t. If they sign him draft another CB and a SS, not 2 x CB’s unless one is a low rounder. If we can’t keep him get something, only then should we draft 2 CB’s early and mid. We still need SS, DT, OC/G, and possably LB and you are convinced Bill will go for the francise QB too. Just our needs take care of 5 or 6 picks if Talib walks. History says about half a draft meets expetations so no room at all for mistakes this time, imo.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Steve, I think it comes down to who is on the present roster, and who will gone next year, when thinking about the draft. Then there are the guys on Injured reserve, will they be on the roster next year?
        Lets look at the Oline;
        The Patriots have OG Baker, OT/G Svitek, OT/G Cannon on the roster, as non-starters; OG/C Kline, OC Cave, OT Dewey on the P-squad. On Injured reserve; OT Fisher, OT Schwab, OG/T Zusevics. So if Connolly (making 3.25 mil. a year) is cut, do we need to draft a guy? Wendell is currently making; $830K to start at OC, and even if it’s not his best year I would resign him at 1.75 mil. next year. Would you keep Connolly as a back-up at OG/C IF he would re-do his contract for say 1.75 mil.???
        It would seem to me that Cannon, or Zuesvics maybe the starter at ROG, but the Patriots seem to like OG Baker. OC I would sign Wendell IF he would take a fair deal, or look at Cave or Kline (P-squad) to see if they are an OC starter. All of these guys are in the system, Connolly being the oldest (starting his 9th year in 2014), the rest of this group are younger. Also remember Mankins will be starting his 10th year in 2014.
        The Patriots have the best Oline coach in Dante Scarnecchia to develope talent, so looking at undrafted players like; Wendell, Connolly,Zuesvics, Baker, Cave, Kline, Fisher, may continue with the 2014 draft. So do we draft a guy in 2014?
        I think the answer is yes, Mankins, Solder, and Vollmer were early draft picks, and Cannon a latter pick. So drafting a guy in say the 2nd or 3d round looks likely, with skills to play OG or OC.
        So looking at Talib, you need to look at all the players at CB and S , and decide who is and is not around next year, to figuare out the best move for the team.

        • steve earle says:

          Right Russell, I think that was pretty much what I was trying to express because we just can’t be sure at this point. If Bill signs him up for say 3 yrs at a reasonable price then drafts another talented prospect 2nd to 4th rd it would give depth and potential upgrade to position. I’d like to see Bill take Darqueze Dennard who could challange Arrington and his 4+ mil contract.

        • steve earle says:

          Oh, forgot, about C/G, yes I’d resign both Windell and Connelly to team friendly contracts but still draft an OC like Stork, Swanson or other around the 4th because of the value they represent in those rounds. There are just so many possabilitys.

    • Alex says:

      Your CB numbers are way off Russell. Here are the top five, and number 10.

      01 Darrelle Revis $16m
      02 Champ Bailey $10.75m
      03 Brandon Carr $10.02m
      04 Cortland Finnegan $10m
      05 Jonathan Joseph $9.75m

      10 Antonio Cromartie $8m

      Now factors in our favour for keeping Talib is that there will be a decent number of quality CBs hitting the market including Alterraun Verner, Sam Shields and others. Then the cap should be staying fairly flat again, and there isn’t loads of space in the league, especially at good teams. All the contender are tight.
      So given how successful Talib has been here on and off the field, it would seem advantageous to both parties to keep him here, and that could well lead to a bit of a hometown/contender discount, and the Pats paying a bit more than they might choose.

      In my mind Talib’s people will be wanting him to be the 2nd highest paid CB, and will be arguing for $11m, while the Patriots will point to Ladarius Webb ($8.33m) as the best example of a quality cover guy signing a recent contract to stay with a contender.
      Hopefully they can settle somewhere inbetween, but Talib will be able to get more on the open market.

      As for the draft. If he goes, we need to get another quality guy into the rotation, either via the draft or FA. If he stays, then CB isn’t a priority, we have four starting calibre guys, so you only go early if the value is too good to miss.
      As it stands our two best DTs are old and will be coming of injuries. We have some promising rookies, but they’re unlikely to ever be stars, so I think DT is our biggest need, and for a difference maker. Then the O-line. It’s been poor in the middle, and with Mankins ageing, and Wendell regressing, we need improvements. A high pick and a mid late pick seem to make most sense, assuming no drastic FA moves. Then a second TE would be the best way to help this offense keep growing. We already have too many young WRs, so if we want to keep improving we grab a TE. Either an allround guy like ASJ, or a move guy to replace Voldemort. Then anything else is gravy.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        THANKS Alex, I wrote down the wrong salary numbers for Revis, and Bailey!

      • steve earle says:

        Sorry Alex I have to disagree that we have 4 starting cal CB’s. Arrington is a make do guy and Ryan and Cole flash occasional potential but are not starting cal (yet). I do agree DT is #1 need as the 2 rookies are unlikely ever to be more then good depth players. Second bigest need is the def backfield where we should look for a SS and another CB. Everything else, need wise fall in a scramble below these and will depend on who and where.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          I will be shocked if Bill takes a DT with thePatriots 1st pick (where ever that maybe). With Wilfork, Kelly, Vellano, Sarpoga, C. Jones, Armstead, Forston, Grisson, Franics, all in the system, I think Bill drafts a guy, 4th or later, I like DT Zac Kerr 6’2′ 330 in the 6th?
          I have kicked around a number of early Mocks, and I belive CB, TE, look like the areas I think Bill targets. He’s what I think this weeks Mock looks like:

          1st-CB- Kyle Fuller
          2nd-TE- Jacob Pederson
          3d-RB- James White
          4th-OL- Austin Wentworth
          6th- QB -Jeff Mathews
          6th- DT -Zack Kerr
          7th- LB- Jordan Tripp

        • Alex says:

          With Wilfork and Kelly both being old and coming off season ending injury, it seems we have quantity, but not quality. Hence I think an early pick would be an essential add, and let the rest fight for the other spots.

          Big Vince may not even be back if we can’t agree a restructure, because he’s not getting paid an extra $8m next year, not coming off injury.

      • Alex says:

        No problem Russell, it is just quite shocking when you see just how much some corners are getting paid, especially guys like Carr and Finnegan.

        And Steve, it’s fair enough to disagree with, and I should qualify what I mean by starting calibre. Not that they would be a great starter on a good team, but that they could start at either LCB, RCB, or SCB for at least half the teams in the NFL. Talib is a top quality #1, Dennard is a great and improving #2, early days on Ryan, but he is quite Dennard-esque, strong and physical with good coverage, with slot versatility too. Arrington will never be a star, but is fairly solid in the slot. We lose Talib (or we can only tag him), then we need to consider depth, but if he stays, then we can’t use high picks there over more pressing areas of need, unless the value is too good to miss. As it stands our secondary is the strength of this defense.

        So if Talib stays, no way secondary is a big need, we have a top 5 secondary in the league this year. Even Gregory has proved to have some worth. And Harmon has looked promising in spots.

        I’d put our draft needs as follows.

        1) DT (need quality and quantity.)
        2a) CB (If Talib goes, and we don’t sign a quality replacement in FA.)
        2b) Interior Oline (Guards and Centre, again need quality and quantity.)
        3) TE (Either a move option, or just a good passing game threat.)
        4=) DE Still need to improve our rush. Having a better rotation would help keep everyone fresh.)
        4=) Coverage guys (Either SS, LB, or backup FS.)
        5a) CB (If Talib leaves)
        5b) Developmental QB

    • Alex says:

      PS. That would put the CB franchise tag at $11.3m. Assuming no-one signs a blockbuster deal in the interim, like Richard Sherman or Alterraun Verner.

  10. munchkin says:

    Talib has shown the ability to play at a high level when he is on the field. He will have to be reasonable in his demands to stay here. As with Wes, the team would use the tag if they feel it is in their best interest. If Talib is as happy playing here as he has indicated, a compromise may play out. The hip flexor issue worries me a bit. I would hope that his off field issues are behind him. Being so close to the Hernandez situation could have given him an opportunity to reflect on his past behavior.

  11. steve earle says:

    Yes, a premium player should get premium pay. Let him go and were right back where we were, looking for a cover corner. Draft someone? Okay who, and can anyone guarantee a rookie can do the job? We know Talib can. Draft a rookie by all means but don’t put all our eggs in one basket. Pick up a free agent? Again who? Trade for someone, who and when? No thanks, be smart an keep a proven player for once.

  12. Trevor M. says:

    He definitely needs to be re-signed. Hopefully they can make it sort of team friendly due to the injury history and past off field issues.

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