Take your pick: Wes or Aqib? MORE: More Lakers laughs


Take your pick: Wes or Aqib? MORE: More Lakers laughs

In this corner . . .

One of the most prolific receivers in Patriots andor NFL history. He's 5-foot-9 and soon-to-be 32 years old. He's tough as nails, best buddies with your Hall of Fame QB and for the last five years has been at the center of the best offense in football. He also happens to be the man at the center of two of the biggest drops this region has ever seen.

And in this corner . . .

A 6-1, 27-year-old defensive back. A former first round pick with first round talent, but one that comes with all kinds of baggage. Still, there's no question as to what he can do for your defense. When he joined the team this year, the worst secondary in the league became passable. When he got hurt in the AFC Championship, everything fell apart.

I just finished reading Tom E. Curran's piece on the upcoming crop of Patriots free agents, and it's impossible to argue with his analysis of New England's three top priorities.

Sebastian Vollmer. Wes Welker. Aqib Talib.

For some reason, I want to put Vollmer in his own category here.

Why? I don't know. I just do, and I want to ask the question: If you could only bring back one of the other two guys, who would it be: Welker or Talib?

I'm really tempted to go with Talib, and to be honest, as much as I hate to type this, I think it has a lot to do with Welker's decreased reliability. This past year, in the aftermath of his drop in the Super Bowl, Welker let more balls go through his hands than we've ever seen. It got to the point where you could count on at least one drop a game, and last Sunday, that one drop was once again a huge factor in the Pats coming up short.

I write the above paragraph with unbelievable respect for what Welker has done, and total confidence that if he does return to the Pats, he'll be destined for another 100-catch season. But in the playoffs, when a shutdown corner (or at the very least a legit No. 1 corner) is so enormously important, and dropped passes are magnified 100 times over . . . Who's more important to the Patriots long term success?

Yeah, I'm falling victim to the temptation and going with Talib. In a perfect world, bring them both back. The Pats are a better team with Talib and Welker. But if there's only one, I'm in the corner's corner.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Ex-Pats Podcast: Defending Le’Veon Bell; Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live mishap


Ex-Pats Podcast: Defending Le’Veon Bell; Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live mishap

Dan Koppen, Jerod Mayo, and Mike Giardi discuss the upcoming AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jerod Mayo draws up a plan for defending running back Le’Veon Bell. Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live controversy is also broached.

2:30 Recapping the win over Houston

6:09 Improving pass protection vs Steelers

8:18 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live controversy

13:00 Defending Le’Veon Bell

17:35 Importance of tackling vs Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger

20:19 The rivalry with Pittsburgh

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