Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Talib was a catalyst for New England's defense in 2012.
The NFL trade deadline saw the Patriots unload a fourth-rounder to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a seventh-rounder and cornerback Aqib Talib.
Now, the 20th overall pick in the 2008 draft is about to become an unrestricted free agent. Should he be retained?
Including the postseason, the 27-year-old press-man corner played in eight total games with New England. In that time, he recorded 29 combined tackles, three pass deflections and one interception returned 59 yards for a touchdown.
Talib gave New England an option for defending top-tier wide receivers. He also made the move of Devin McCourty to free safety and Kyle Arrington to nickelback an easy one.
Yes, Talib's physical presence made a difference in the secondary. But is he irreplaceable? No.
According to ProFootballFocus.com (via Nick Underhill of Masslive.com), Talib allowed the second most yards per coverage snap of any cornerback in the NFL in 2012. Granted, Talib was often facing the opposing team's best wideout, but he wasn't a lockdown defender by any means.
It's not all about his effectiveness in coverage, though. Talib may be a contractual risk.
Between thigh and hip injuries, Talib was on the sidelines for a fair amount of action last season. His struggles to stay healthy appeared again in the AFC Championship Game versus the Baltimore Ravens. He was sorely missed.
On top of the injuries, Talib's effort has become a potential point of contingency. In a CSNNE.com report, a source told Mike Giardi that Talib "passed on the chance to do extra work at times this year and there are questions as to how he'd handle a long-term deal."
The Patriots have swung and missed on some cornerback draft choices in the past, yet this year's class looks to be particularly deep with talent. An affordable high-caliber replacement could be in the mix if Talib's price outweighs New England's demand.