table of contents
- 2011 Bucs 7-Round Mock Draft 3.0
- Point-Counterpoint: Should The Bucs Trade Up For A DE?
- Talib's Troubles Create Dilemma For Bucs
- 2011 Draft: QB Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: RB Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: WR Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: TE Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: G-C Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: OT Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Bucs Can No Longer Ignore DE
- 2011 Draft: DE Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: DT Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: MLB Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: OLB Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- 2011 Draft: Safety Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Prospect: DE Cameron Jordan
- 2011 Draft: CB Preview + Bucs' Best Bets
- Pewter Prospect: RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Through people close to Talib he has denied firing a gun at Billings, and has insisted that his mother, Okolo, was the one who shot at Billings. She was also arrested on felony charges of shooting at Billings by the Garland police department.
If Talib is found guilty, he will serve prison time and his career as a Buccaneer will promptly be over. Whether he is ultimately cleared of these charges or simply convicted of lesser ones, he will likely face a minimum of a four-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell simply for getting arrested for a felony and violating the league’s conduct policy once again.
Talib has shown a pattern of behavior – and that is the key phrase with Goodell – with regards to violence, and unfortunately it’s escalating. In 2008, he got into an altercation with teammate Cory Boyd at the NFL Rookie Symposium. In 2009, he swung his helmet at teammate Donald Penn during a mini-camp fight and hit fellow cornerback Torrie Cox in the face, which resulted in a gash that required stitches.
On the last night of training camp in 2009, Talib punched cab driver David Duggan, but settled with Duggan out of court and was sent to anger management counseling to avoid any jail time. Goodell suspended Talib for the 2010 season opener, but Talib was found to be at the stadium in a luxury suite for the Cleveland game, which violated his suspension. However, the Bucs and Talib luckily avoided any punishment from the league for that transgression.
Team sources say that there have been other lesser incidents, such as Talib shouting at head coach Raheem Morris for violating curfew while in London during the 2009 season, in which he was fined by the team. And then there was the publicized verbal altercation between he and NFL officials following Tampa Bay’s loss at Baltimore.
Now Talib is accused of firing a handgun at a man. Add all of this anger-related bad behavior up and Goodell will almost certainly suspend Talib for at least a quarter of the season because some of his incidents, such as being at Raymond James Stadium during a suspension, went unpunished the first time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Talib gets nailed with an eight-game suspension this time around due to the felony charges.
Like most NFL teams when their star player is involved with breaking the law, the Buccaneers plan to let the legal process conclude before deciding whether to release him or not. If Talib beats the charges and avoids jail time, don’t expect general manager Mark Dominik or head coach Raheem Morris, who serves as the team’s defensive coordinator, to cut him this year.
Simply put, the Bucs need Talib, who has 16 career interceptions in his three years in the league, including a team-high six in 2010, to play an integral role in Morris’ defense. He’s just simply too talented to cut this year regardless of the public relations implications of keeping him on the roster due to previous troubles with the law. Morris, the team’s former defensive backs coach, builds his defensive game plan around coverage in the secondary and the play of Talib, who typically gets assigned to shutdown the opponent’s top receiver.
While Talib’s detractors could point to the fact that the Bucs won key games against playoff teams like Seattle and New Orleans without him, Tampa Bay also dropped close home contests against Atlanta and Detroit and had trouble stopping Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson without Talib in those contests. The Bucs’ 2008 first-round pick suffered a torn hip tendon against Atlanta on December 5 and was placed on injured reserve for the final four games of the year.
Tampa Bay’s offseason plan this year was to address defensive end in the draft due to the quality depth at that position. Aside from LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Nebraska’s Prince Amukumara, who has visited One Buc Place, this is a relatively weak class of cornerbacks, and those two are the only first-round-caliber cover men in the 2011 draft. With pressing needs at defensive end and linebacker, the Bucs would rather not spend a premium draft pick on a weaker crop of cornerbacks out of immediate need due to Talib’s situation.
The Bucs do have three quality corners that finished the season strong against the Seahawks and Saints in veteran Ronde Barber and youngsters E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis. However, Barber is entering his 15th season in the NFL at age 35, and one has to wonder how long his high level of play will continue.
Biggers was forced to start in place of Talib, but the team views him as more of a nickel cornerback because he doesn’t make as many plays on the football as it would like. Lewis has great potential to become a starter, but only played half the year and still needs experience. He has the physical tools to develop into a starter, but the Bucs will likely need two starters in 2012 to replace both Barber and Talib.
Tampa Bay fans would love to see the team acquire former Oakland four-time Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has similar size and ball-hawking skills to Talib. In 2010, the final year with the Raiders before his contract voided, Asomugha allowed only 10 receptions on 27 passes that were thrown his way and did not surrender a touchdown. That’s why he is regarded as the league’s best cornerback.
Asomugha’s last deal was a three-year, $45.3 million contract that paid him an average of $15.1 million. Are the Glazers willing to step up and play Asomugha, who will be 30 years old in July, that type of money? It will probably take $17 million per season to land Asomugha, who will be the most sought-after free agent on the market once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
In years past, the Glazers made Jeff Faine the league’s highest-paid center, but he was 27 years old at the time. And when Kellen Winslow’s new deal in Tampa Bay in 2009 made him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end, the Glazers signed off on the deal while Winslow was only 25.
The Glazers also made former Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL right after the Super Bowl in 2003, and were right in the thick of the Albert Haynesworth negotiations in 2009 that ultimately saw the defensive tackle get a contract worth a reported $100 million. How would the Glazers feel about making a 30-year old cornerback like Asomugha the league’s highest-paid defensive player?
Tampa Bay will need to spend money to reach the yet-to-be-determined salary cap floor, and signing Asomugha to a huge contract would certainly aid in the Bucs’ efforts to comply with the league’s spending. Signing a slightly lesser player like Cincinnati’s Johnathan Joseph, who could be an unrestricted free agent (but was tendered with first- and third-round picks as compensation in case he’s declared to be a restricted free agent) depending on the outcome of the new collective bargaining agreement would be a cheaper alternative.
With Talib’s contract expiring at the end of the 2012 season, the Bucs would have to shell out huge amounts of money to re-sign the talented cornerback even if he could stay out of trouble. Why not spend that money on a safer character option like Asomugha or Joseph?
The Bucs appear willing to roll the dice and see what the outcome of the trial is before even considering parting ways with Talib, according to team sources. Tampa Bay hopes to have him for at least half – if not more – of the 2011 season, and will have to pray that Barber, Biggers and Lewis can stay healthy and be productive during any suspension Talib might face. And for that reason, I just don’t see the Bucs investing in Asomugha or even Joseph in free agency – despite the fact they probably should.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bucs spend a mid-round pick on a player like Virginia’s Ras-I Dowling this year, or a late-round pick on a cornerback like Miami’s DeMarcus Van Dyke or The Citadel’s Cortez Allen, who caught Tampa Bay’s eye at the East-West Shrine Game. But I could also see the team stand pat with Barber, Biggers and Lewis, wait until the legal process determines Talib’s fate, and then make a move on a corner in 2012 when a better crop of cornerbacks should be available and the team has already addressed its needs at defensive end and linebacker in 2011. It would be a risky proposition, but don’t discount it.
SR’s PEWTER INSIDER
• Despite his arrest and felony charges, the Buccaneers cannot release cornerback Aqib Talib – or any player – while the league is without a collective bargaining agreement. Even if a player becomes a serial killer or a terrorist, the NFL is not allowed to have any transactions of any kind – trades, signings, contract extensions or player releases – until a new CBA is agreed to by the NFL owners and the players union, which of course is decertified. So for those Tampa Bay fans that are sick and tired of the team coddling Talib and want him off the roster, the hands of general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris are tied until the league has a new CBA.
• The patience displayed by the Buccaneers front office regarding waiting until the outcome Talib’s legal situation is not uncommon before considering what to do with him. Dominik has been around One Buc Place for the past 15 years and has seen several Bucs players over the years, such as defensive ends Tyoka Jackson and Ellis Wyms, wide receiver Mike Williams and linebacker Geno Hayes, beat the charges in a trial or had the charges dropped altogether. Hayes and Williams are the most recent examples, but Jackson, who was charged with soliciting a prostitute in October 1998, was probably the most serious offense in terms of negative public relations. It turns out that Jackson was cleared of all charges when he did no wrong and it appeared as if he was entrapped by a police sting operation that zestfully went after him after learning he was a Buccaneers player. Of course Dominik was quick to release tight end Jerramy Stevens, who had a checkered past with the law, once he was arrested for allegedly possessing drugs with the intent to sell last fall, so you never know.