Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 1/22/13
TAMPA, Fla. As far as rebounds go, this was a fine find. In November, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib was searching. He was forced to scratch out a new start after being shipped from the lone NFL franchise he called home to the land of Cheers and chowdah. Quickly, a trade to the New England Patriots became a union of mutual benefit. Talib sought to buff a troubled image. Meanwhile, his new team looked to boost a secondary splitting at the seams. After six regular-season games under the Hoodie, one divisional round showing and a short appearance in an AFC Championship Game loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the verdict is in: For Talib, this was a solid recovery after whiplash change near the trade deadline, about the best reconstruction he could hope for after switching cannon fire for musket shots late in the fall. Where will he go from here? Well, that remains to be seen.I had a lot of fun here, Talib told reporters Monday, a day after he was sidelined with a thigh injury in the first quarter during the loss at Gillette Stadium. Definitely enjoyed my time here. Well see what happens in the future, but I definitely had the most fun Ive had playing football in a long time. Like other players who succeed after a move, its easy to wonder many things about the 26-year-old Kansas product. What if Talib, set to become an unrestricted free agent, had become a fit in coach Greg Schianos and general manager Mark Dominiks plan? What if he hadnt taken an Adderall pill without a prescription near the start of training camp this past season, which led to a four-game suspension for violating the NFLs policy on performance-enhancing substances? What if he hadnt been arrested twice? What if his history with Tampa Bay hadnt led Dominik to say, after the trade was announced, The thing that you have to keep in mind as an organization is your body of work is what it is. What if things had worked out? The NFL is littered with stories of revival, so the question is well worn. Drew Brees, after leaving the San Diego Chargers for the New Orleans Saints. Brett Favre, after leaving the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets for the Minnesota Vikings. Peyton Manning, with the Denver Broncos, after his time ran out with the Indianapolis Colts. The list goes on and on. The professional world, after all, is about circumstance and fit."We will not make any decisions on any players into the future now," New England coach Bill Belichick said Monday, when asked about Talibs future. "You just cant do it. There are too many factors, too many unknown things. That may be the case, and as a result, it's too early to claim winners and losers after Talibs detour. Sure, the gifted talent, drafted 20th overall in 2008, became the needle that stitched a dreadful secondary; before his arrival, the Patriots defense ranked 30th in passing yards allowed per game (281), including 28 plays of more than 20 yards, and opposing quarterbacks owned a 96.9 rating against them. Sunday, Baltimores Joe Flacco ripped New England for 240 yards passing and three touchdowns in Talibs absence. Clearly, he was missed. Still, Talibs past became too heavy to ignore in his former home. His baggage was always there, even if he showed growth along the way. Trading a player with 18 career interceptions at the time, in addition to a seventh-round choice in the upcoming draft for a fourth-round pick this spring, probably was best for all involved. Sometimes, it takes pressing the reset button to find focus. Sometimes, a change just works. I dont want to comment on that, because I dont know the inner-workings of the Buccaneers and what all went on there during his time there, Mark Mangino, Talibs former coach at Kansas, told FOXSportsFlorida.com, when asked if Tampa Bay made a mistake in letting Talib go. Ive got a lot of respect for Greg Schiano. I think hes an outstanding coach. I think he has a structured atmosphere. Its well organized. Its probably a situation where it was in the interest of both the Bucs and the Patriots to make that trade. Mangino can recall an earlier time when it seemed Talib made strides with Tampa Bay. Last summer, during training camp, the former coach spent a day with the Buccaneers and heard updates from several voices within the organization. He gathered positive reviews from many angles: Trainers, assistants and strength coaches told him Talib showed a positive work ethic and displayed strong leadership traits. Mangino felt good after his visit; he assumed his former player was well on his way. Then came, as the former coach calls it, a bump in the road." Then came Talibs suspension.Certainly, I felt bad about what had happened at Tampa Bay, said Mangino, who lives in Naples, Fla. But I also knew that New England was an organization where they have a lot of structure, discipline. They like cerebral players. Theyre team-oriented as well. Bill Belichick really does a good job of reaching out to guys like Aqib and getting them to play well and do good things. For him, it was a fresh start, which he probably needed. I think he fits nicely with the Patriots and what they do on defense and the way they run their operation there. He likes structure and discipline. Did Talib have regrets about the way his Tampa Bay career ended? We talked about it, said Mangino, who coached Talib from 2004 to 2007. The only thing I would say is that, sure, he was remorseful. Hes sorry that it happened. He told me that hell learn from it. The thing that I told him is, Now that youre going to New England, go to work every day. Bust your butt like you did, because he loves football. Hell practice every day if you want him to. If hes not at work, (I told him) just kind of lay low and relax. Just enjoy life and just relax. Talib found life to be rewarding after a move North. As far as rebounds go, this was a keeper: A player was paired with a team that coveted him, and bothbenefitedfrom the fresh start. Where will Talib go from here? That remains unclear. But even though he found success elsewhere, his former franchise has little reason to look back.After all, sometimes, a change just works. You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.
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