The Buccaneers have made it known that cornerback Aqib Talib is available via trade, a league source has told PewterReport.com. Talib, who is in the final year of his contract, has a grand jury trial scheduled for June 25 in Texas for his aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident in March 2011.
A league source has told PewterReport.com that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made starting cornerback Aqib Talib available via trade. Thus far there have been no takers. The Bucs offered no comment on whether Talib is in fact on the trading block.
It is unknown what Tampa Bay’s asking price is for Talib, but Bucs general manager Mark Dominik does want additional picks in this year’s draft and has publicly expressed the idea of trading down in the first round in order to try to do so. Tampa Bay has one pick in every round except for the fourth round, which was sent to Philadelphia last year when the Bucs traded up in the fourth round of the 2011 draft to select tight end Luke Stocker.
What would make attempting to trade Talib difficult is the fact that his trial for aggravated assault with a handgun in Texas has been pushed back to June 25. The original trial date was scheduled for March and the Bucs were hoping to know Talib’s status prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins on April 26.
Even if he is found not guilty of the charges, there is still the possibility that Talib could face a suspension from the NFL for his conduct that led to his arrest last March, and that could further dampen interest in the talented cornerback. Also complicating any possible trade is the fact that this year’s draft is relatively deep at the cornerback position. As many as four cornerbacks – LSU’s Morris Claiborne, Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick, North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins and South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore – could be taken in the first round of the draft.
Under new head coach Greg Schiano the Bucs are in the process of overhauling its roster and getting rid of players that don’t follow Schiano’s “Buccaneer Way” of doing things with regards to conduct and professionalism. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter and starting free safety Tanard Jackson were the first players to be released, as part of this overhaul and Talib could be the next one.
Talib, who was drafted in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, has led the team in interceptions over the past four years with 17, including two returned for a touchdown. The 26-year old Talib is loaded with physical talent and superb instincts, but has seen his last two seasons with the Bucs cut short due to injury.
Talib, who is entering the final year of his contract, finished last season with two interceptions, a team-leading 13 pass breakups, 46 tackles and a career-high two forced fumbles in 13 games. Tampa Bay signed veteran cornerback Eric Wright to a five-year deal worth as much as $37.5 million, and also re-signed legendary cornerback Ronde Barber, who has been a starter since 1998, for a team-record 16th season.
The Bucs also have depth at cornerback from E.J. Biggers, who was the team’s nickel cornerback last season, returns in 2012, along with Myron Lewis, a third-round pick in 2010 who has yet to pan out, in addition to Anthony Gaitor, a seventh-rounder from a year ago.
Tampa Bay is believed to be seriously considering using its first-round pick on Claiborne, who is the top-rated cornerback in the draft. Claiborne, a junior entry, is blessed with 4.39 speed and had 11 interceptions over the past two years, and was coached by Ron Cooper at LSU. Cooper was hired by the Bucs this offseason to serve as Tampa Bay’s secondary coach.
If Talib is traded or released this offseason, Wright and Barber would presumably be the starters with Claiborne or another rookie likely challenging Biggers for the nickel cornerback role.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.