Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aqib Talib trade affects Bucs in present, future

NFL coaches don't read horoscopes. They live in a world of now. They worry about the next game, the next first down, the next play.

That's why you have to give some credit to coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs for their decision to trade cornerback Aqib Talib to the Patriots on Thursday. The Bucs received a fourth-round pick in 2013 in exchange for Talib and a seventh-rounder.

In the short term, losing a starting cornerback with first-round talent likely will come back to bite the Bucs.

Maybe not today in Oakland because the Bucs still have the services of cornerback Eric Wright. According to a report by Jay Glazer of Fox last week, Wright will be suspended four games for testing positive for Adderall, a banned substance Talib says also led to his four-game suspension.

But remember, if the report is true, the Bucs could face the prospect of having neither starting cornerback in games against quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Matt Ryan (twice), Peyton Manning and Michael Vick.

"You do try to look at the now and the future," Schiano said. "We all thought this was the best move for the now and the future, and that's why we did it."

Talib can become a free agent at the end of the season, and the Bucs decided not to attempt to re-sign him. That said, getting a fourth-round pick for someone who has, at most, eight games left in a Tampa Bay uniform is more than adequate compensation.

Perhaps only Patriots coach Bill Belichick, with three Super Bowl rings and five appearances, has the kind of equity to take a chance on a talented but troubled player such as Talib knowing they might only be renting him for the rest of the season. The Patriots secondary has been a problem, having given up 42 pass plays of 20 yards or more.

Talib, 26, still has ability, though at this point in his career, he is not as good as the hype. He has 18 interceptions over four-plus seasons but only three since 2010. He'll be motivated to play in New England, especially having only a few months to improve his free agent bounty.

If the Bucs win today and move to 4-4, they will be only two games (possibly one) behind the final wild-card team with some favorable matchups left on the schedule. They already have lost guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks to season-ending injuries. Can they afford to lose another first-round talent?

At the very least, the Bucs are going to find out more about cornerbacks E.J. Biggers, Leonard Johnson and Myron Lewis.

"Now that I think there are some guys progressing — E.J. Biggers is playing well — certainly all those factors come into play," Schiano said. "I think we have some young corners in the program now that can play; Myron Lewis, all those guys. They've got to play. That's the way you get better. You can practice, and that's great. You have to do that to get good. But there's no substitute for games.

"Like any decision we make, you have to make the decision and go with it. If it's wrong, then you'll change it. That's something I learned a long time ago. Once you make it, you've got to go. We feel good about it, and we'll be ready to go (today)."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud @tampabay.com and heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.

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