Two key players are free agents after this season, and each played a major role in the AFC Championship Game. If you had to choose, which player would you pick for the Patriots to re-sign, Aqib Talib or Wes Welker?
Talib was only on the team for half a season, but he made a major impact in New England’s secondary. He has the ability to shut down one side of the field, and the more he’s able to acclimate himself to Bill Belichick‘s defense, the better he could be.
The trade for Talib paid immediate dividends for the Patriots, as they started allowing less yards, and most importantly, less big plays. It was easy to see Talib’s impact when the cornerback went out on Sunday night with a thigh injury. The Patriots’ defense immediately started giving up more yards to Joe Flacco, and while Talib was doing a great job shutting down Anquan Boldin early in the game, the big Baltimore wide receiver went off for two touchdowns when Talib had to come out.
Of course, Welker also plays a major role on the Patriots. The slot receiver caught eight passes for 117 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night. After a key drop against the Ravens and a key drop in the Patriots’ postseason loss last season, some fans have been calling for the Patriots to let Welker walk for more of a deep threat wide receiver. The Patriots would still have to replace Welker, though, and needless to say, it’s difficult to replace the best slot receiver in the league.
The Patriots could have an in-house option in Julian Edelman, but the fourth-year player has never fully emerged as an offensive weapon, though he has shown glimpses. Early in the season it looked like New England may be ready to phase Welker out, but injuries to Aaron Hernandez and Edelman forced Welker back into a major role, and the Patriots’ had one of the best offenses in the NFL yet again.
So who would you pick if you could only take one? Would you want the Patriots to sign Welker and have to go out and draft another cornerback to replace Talib? Or would you want the Patriots to sign Talib and move forward with Edelman or another slot receiver?