FOXBORO — In this multi-billion dollar professional football industry, $694,500 for six weeks work is akin to a bag of potato chips for a middle class family.
But those “chips” may have changed the course of the 2012 season and possibly several seasons going forward for the dynasty-driven New England Patriots.
It was the amount the Patriots had to pay for Aqib Talib — along with a fourth round pick in the 2013 draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In retrospect, it if was 10 times that amount it would still have been a bargain.
It is ironic that Talib, the master of tumult for his first four and half seasons in the National Football League, has brought a yoga-like influence to the Patriots laugh-a-minute pass defense since the November trade.
The Patriots defense now is — I cringe when I am about to say it — pretty darn good. And the correlation with Talib is unavoidable.
Heck, he not only picked off an errant pass from Andrew Luck in his first game as a Patriot on Nov. 18, but he brought it back to “the house” inducing the rout.
“I don’t think people realize how good of a football player Aqib is,” said Patriots backup wide receiver and special teams wizard, Matthew Slater. “He’s got size. He’s got athleticism. He added a dimension to our defense that we didn’t have. He’s not only brought a lot to our defense, but he’s brought a lot to our team.”
The question with Talib hasn’t ever been talent.
He was a first-team All-American at the University of Kansas in his final season as a junior, and capped his career off with an MVP performance at the Orange Bowl (a 60-yard TD interception return keyed win over Virginia Tech, 24-21). Not to mention size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and speed (4.38 in the 40 yard dash). While he was ranked a top 10 prospect, he was chosen 20th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft (Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was selected 10th).