Bedard: 'Too much risk' involved with Talib


Bedard: 'Too much risk' involved with Talib

The Patriots made a trade last week in hopes to improve upon their poor secondary this season, but is the addition of Aqib Talib and the rap sheet that comes along with him worth it?

Boston Globe Patriots beat writer Greg Bedard doesn't think so.

"For me personally, there's too much risk," Bedard said on Sports Sunday. "I just think that at a certain point you have to draw a line. And I think the Talib trade goes far and beyond what they've done in the past. He's currently on suspension, so Bill Belichick couldn't talk to him to see where his head is, how he's going to fit in, things like that -- things that he did with Albert Haynesworth and Randy Moss before he acquired them."

Talib is still serving a four-game suspension for abusing the league's substance abuse policy. He claims it was a positive test for Adderal.

"I just thought, this guy. I don't mind trading up -- trade a first, second, third round pick to get somebody. But, this guy? I have a problem with this," Bedard continued.

You don't have to like Talib as a person, but what about Talib as a player? Patriots Hall of Famer Troy Brown is by no means a fan of the person, but seems to be willing to look past that and focus on what he does on the field.

"The guy, he can play. Is he better than what they had? I do believe he's better than what they had back there," Brown said. "He's aggressive and what we talk about all the time is guys that are going to get in somebody's face and challenge them, and this guy is going to do that."

That said, it is a little troubling that Talib's physical altercations are adding up.

"I have no problem with guys getting second, third chances," Brown said. "But it's guys who get second, third chances because they screwed up this, or they screwed up that. Different things on and off. But this seems to be the same type of stuff that this guy's continuing to screw up with so that's the problem I have with the signing. But will he help them in the secondary is the bottom line, and yes I think he'll help them back there."

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass-rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

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There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.