The New England Patriots as an organization love to play things extremely close to the chest so it is no surprise that head coach Bill Belichick was noncommittal regarding whether the organization will retain the services of cornerback Aqib Talib. Yet, despite the ambivalence of Belichick’s answers when asked about Talib, it would be foolish for the Patriots to not do whatever they can to keep Talib an integral part of the team’s defense. Based on his play for the Patriots this season, Talib definitely deserves the opportunity to extend his tenure with the Patriots.
After being acquired by the Patriots in a mid-season trade, Talib met every expectation that I had for him in how his time would be spent in a Patriots uniform, delivering on the promise of his career production. In fact, he even slightly exceeded my expectations.
Based on what he had done for the Buccaneers defense in his four games before being traded, I predicted that Talib would be the third-most valuable pass defender for the Patriots, at least in terms of expected points per game. Since Talib was facing a truncated season with the Patriots, due in part to his four-game suspension, it would have been unfair to count on him to exceed the other Patriots secondary members in cumulative statistics as well.
Instead of just being the third-most valuable defender in the Patriots secondary in regards to expected points added per game, Talib was in fact the second-most valuable secondary member. His 2.50 expected points added per game, for the seven games he played for the Patriots, were only bettered by safety extraordinaire Devin McCourty’s 2.54 expected points added per game as Talib contributed slightly more expected points added per game for the Patriots than he did for the Buccaneeers this season.
To not bring back Talib for future seasons would suggest the Patriots do not recognize the talents of the players on their own roster, a concept that is difficult to imagine since the Patriots are such a well-run organization.
Additionally, if the Patriots neglected to sign unrestricted free agent Talib, the organization would not just be allowing one of the most talented members in their secondary to walk away. The franchise would also be depriving themselves of one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Talib’s 2.50 expected points added per game for the Patriots and 2.38 expected points added per game for the Buccaneers easily place him among the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks, meaning it would be incredibly difficult for the Patriots to truly replace his value.
Talib has already expressed that he enjoyed being a Patriot this season, which leads one to assume he would be pleased about being a Patriot for seasons to come. Combine his enjoyment of being a Patriot with how much the Patriots benefited from having him on the roster, and the best thing for both sides would be to hammer out a contract that would be mutually beneficial to both player and team.