Do New England Patriots fans finally have something to get excited about?
The Patriots soon will have a huge hole to fill at cornerback, assuming Malcolm Butler leaves the team in free agency. And two big-name corners reportedly are interested in joining Bill Belichick and Co.: Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib.
Both players currently are employed by other teams — Talib with the Denver Broncos and Sherman with the Seattle Seahawks. But NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Talib’s roster spot is “in jeopardy,” and Sherman was the subject of heavy trade rumors last offseason.
And now, Talib and Sherman “have their eye” on New England, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reported Thursday.
“Last offseason the Pats did call the Seahawks about Sherman, who turns 30 at the end of this month, but the trade interest was brief,” Howe wrote. “Sherman was receptive to the idea of joining the Patriots then and still is now if Seattle goes in another direction, according to a source.
” … Talib, 32, would be receptive to the idea of rejoining the Patriots, according to a source. So if the Broncos unload him prior to free agency, that potential courtship could begin in the coming days.”
So, should the Patriots seriously consider replacing the 27-year-old Butler with a 30-year-old corner?
Talib, of course, played for New England during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and regularly expressed admiration for the organization. Sure, he brings some baggage (like, shooting yourself in the leg baggage), but Talib also could add physicality and nastiness to a Patriots defense that lacked both last season.
As for Sherman, his age and injury history — he suffered a torn Achilles last season — are causes for concern. But when healthy, he still is one of the NFL’s premier cornerbacks, and has displayed leadership qualities throughout his career — despite reports of him being a locker-room cancer in recent years.
Now, this is the Patriots we’re talking about, which means there’s a real possibility they replace Butler with affordable internal options, such as Jonathan Jones. Or they could draft someone in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. Heck, they’ll probably do both.
But the team’s penchant for adding notable names in recent seasons, including signing cornerback Darrelle Revis in 2014, suggests the Patriots recognize the obvious: The championship window eventually will close. And adding a player like Sherman or Talib could keep it open just a little bit longer.