Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gary Shelton: Time for Buccaneers to cut Aqib Talib loose

TAMPA

Another headline. Another mess. Another suggestion that a wayward cornerback still doesn't get it.

Tell me: Isn't it time for outrage yet?

Isn't it time for the Bucs to tell Talib to leave?

Most of us passed the point of putting up with Aqib Talib a few second chances ago. Maybe it was when he hit a teammate with a helmet. Or when he punched out a cab driver. Or when he cursed a referee long and loud after a loss. Or when he was arrested on charges of shooting at his sister's boyfriend.

Now here comes trouble again.

Anyone surprised?

The NFL suspended Talib on Saturday for the next four games for using a performance-enhancing substance, and all you could say was the Bucs had it coming. They have been embarrassed by Talib in one manner or another throughout his career, and they have apologized for him and enabled him and crossed their fingers. Every time, Talib has betrayed their trust.

The Bucs should have known better. With Talib, there is always going to be another headache, another headline, another horror show. Sooner or later, he was going to let down his teammates once again.

If the Bucs really care about character, Talib would have been gone long ago. If they really want this community to love this team, they would have stripped the colors from the 26-year-old long ago and pointed him toward the airport. This is their shame as much as it is Talib's.

At this point, the team can't even act indignantly if it releases him. It can merely shrug and say "We know, we know. It's about time."

This is what happens when a team stands by its trouble. The trouble comes back to visit it. And guess what? If the Bucs talk themselves into bringing Talib back, he'll be back in the headlines again. They're his second home.

This time it will be interesting to see the way new coach Greg Schiano reacts. It is one thing to be no-nonsense when you turn loose Kellen Winslow Jr. and Tanard Jackson and Brian Price. Those guys couldn't play. None of them are on an active roster today; Jackson is serving a drug suspension.

Talib? As much has he has struggled this year — he is an overrated cornerback on a team that is last in pass defense — he still has starter's talent. When you consider how much man coverage the Bucs play, Talib is a better bet than the guys behind him. No, the 2008 first-round draft pick isn't the shutdown corner the Bucs pretend he is, but his loss will be felt.

At this point, no one should care. If a football franchise is going to stand for something, it cannot stand for the relentless failings of a controversial cornerback.

For the Bucs, it is time to raise the standards.

It is time for trouble to leave.

Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

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