Positional Assessments: Cornerback

Now that the speculative dust has settled and the Patriots have decided to, once again, NOT use the Franchise Tag on a game-changing player, Aqib Talib stands to be a free agent within days.

The local radio and TV talking heads have begun to beat an unrealistic drum for the Pats to trade for Darrelle Revis and his 16 million dollar hit through 2018. Is there anything that the Patriots front office has shown that indicates they are willing to carry that cap number for that long? Has Revis ever settled for a nickel less than he felt he was worth? The answer to both is a thunderous NO. However, it’s late February, the local basketball entry is in full rebuild mode, the hockey team is droning along, and there are few, if any positional battles for the Sox. So cue the contrived rumor, or dream, which takes on a life of its own in the echo chamber. Thus, the Revis to New England talking point.

The Patriots HAVE to resign Talib. He is only 28 years old. He has been nothing but a model citizen since he’s been here. He shuts down individual players, not just a side of the field (see Richard Sherman). He thoroughly seems to enjoy being here.

On Monday, Brent Grimes (31 years old) signed a four-year, 32 million-dollar contract with the Dolphins. The contract has 16 million guaranteed, according to the Miami Herald. Are those numbers Talib would sign for? He would almost certainly take that salary. The feeling here is that Talib could be had for four years and 28 to 30 million, with 14 to 16 million guaranteed. Where Talib has been a bit less consistent, especially with on-field attendance, he is two-and-a-half years younger than Grimes.

People will question Talib’s durability. He was injured in both of the past two AFC Championship games. (Sherman did not finish the Super Bowl. T’s tackle football- injuries happen) That is true. It is also true that the Ravens and Broncos eviscerated the New England secondary without Talib in the game. It is clear that when the “next man (is) up” in the Patriots secondary has a dramatic drop off.

Kyle Arrington is a football mystery. When he is lined up on the outside he could not cover Oprah if she was out there. When he is inside, he is a decent slot corner with much more productivity. The coaches see something in him that escapes me. I happen to see a guy who deserves almost everything that has happened to him in his career. Cut from Philly practice squad- deserved. Cut from Tampa Bay practice squad- deserved. Signed a contract that pays him 3.56 million in 2014, 4.6 million in 2015, and 5.1 million in 2016- undeserved. This is maybe the most baffling contract on the roster.

Logan Ryan has the look of a future star. His five interceptions show that he was clearly a target for opposing quarterbacks. Unlike Arrington, Ryan made them pay. With ten passes defended, thirty-five tackles, and one and a half sacks, Ryan was always around the ball. As long as he doesn’t fall prey to the sophomore slump too many of the Patriots young corners have, he can ultimately be a shut down corner.

 Cold-cocking a cop and getting a DUI get you a couple of things- they get you 60 days in a Nebraska jail. They get you drafted in the seventh round, instead of the second or third. They get you a $57,000 bonus and four-year deal worth only 2.1 million. Welcome to Alfonzo Dennard’s early career. This money is a far cry from what he would have earned as an earlier round draft pick with a clean reputation. In spite of these off-field troubles, Dennard has the potential to be a standout. His ability to stay on the field next season will be the key to his development. If he is healthy, he will grapple with Ryan for the second cornerback spot.

Free Agent they should target:  Aqib Talib: what do other free agents bring to the table that Talib does not? Nothing. And, Talib has been in New England’s system. If he finishes the year upright, all doubts about him will be erased.

Player they should target in the draft: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska, he’s a big  (6’2”, 215) talented athlete. The beauty for the Pats is his somewhat slow (4.61) 40 yard time at the Combine may move him down many team’s draft boards. This guy screams value pick. I think it is clearly established that New England loves value. He has already graduated from Nebraska, so you know he is focused and driven. 

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.