The New England Patriots moved to strengthen their porous secondary, taking cornerback Aqib Talib, who has one game remaining on a 4-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, from the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers disclosed the trade completed before Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline. In addition to Talib, the New England Patriots will get a 2013 7th-round draft pick and send a 2013 4th-rounder to the Bucs in turn.
Talib is in the final season of his contract. The New England Patriots will pay him the prorated part of his $1.825 million base salary. He won’t be eligible to play for the Patriots, who are on bye this week, till a Week 11 matchup against the Colts thanks to the suspension.
In an announcement released by the Buccaneers earlier in the month, Talib said that he took an Adderall pill without a prescription “around the start of training camp.”
“This is especially regrettable because, for the previous one or two months, with coach (Greg) Schiano’s help, I have worked very hard to improve myself — personally and professionally – as a player and a man,” Talib said at the time.”I am actually sorry to my teammates, coaches and Buccaneers fans, and I’m disappointed in myself. I’m going to work diligently every day of this suspension to remain in top football shape and be in a position to help this team in the 2nd half of the season.”
Talib was the 20th overall pick in the 2008 draft and was one of Tampa Bay’s top defenders with 18 career interceptions.
Talib’s suspension is the 2nd of his NFL career. NFL odds
The 26-year-old was suspended without pay for the 2010 regular-season opener and also was charged one additional game check for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. That discipline derived from an altercation with a St. Petersburg taxi driver during training camp in August 2009.
At 6 feet 1, 205 pounds, Talib is a taller, longer corner than what the Patriots have on their roster. He’s been famous for his coverage and ball talents, with 18 career interceptions.
The Patriots’ pass defense has been the team’s biggest weakness so far this season, ranking 30th in passing yards allowed per game (281). It also has allowed 28 passing plays of more than 20 yards. Opposing quarterbacks have a 96.9 rating against the Patriots this season, 27th in the NFL.
The team’s defensive secondary also has been hampered by injuries. Starting safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory have each missed the past 2 games and cornerback Kyle Arrington left Sunday’s contest with a head injury. The Patriots released 2nd-year cornerback Sterling Moore.
Talib’s presence provides more flexibility for the Patriots from a personnel perspective. If the coaching staff envisions cornerback Devin McCourty as a better fit at safety — where he’s played the previous 2 games due to injuries — they now add another proved cornerback to the mix in Talib to take his place. Or perhaps they’ve got more concern with the No. 2 cornerback spot and envisage a McCourty/Talib pairing. This adds another puzzle piece as Coach Bill Belichick tries to fix a secondary that has struggled for long stretches.