As it turns out, Alfonzo Dennard wasn’t a bargain after all. We may have thought the Patriots pulled off a steal last April by taking the University of Nebraska cornerback in the seventh round of the NFL draft. But it looks as though he’s going to cost them a lot more than that in wake of yesterday’s guilty verdict for Dennard in Nebraska on charges of felony assault on a police officer and the misdemeanor resisting arrest. Since there is no way to know how that may translate into jail time for Dennard until sentencing April 11 — five weeks after the deadline for designating a franchise player expires — the Pats would seem to be forced to slap the $10.6 non-exclusive franchise tag on free agent corner Aqib Talib. Whether the Pats had planned that or not, it appears to be necessary now to help keep the leaky secondary afloat. The Pats almost have to assume the worst, and count on Dennard, who figured to be one of the starters at corner in 2013, serving some jail time. Talib’s asking price on a short- or long-term deal, therefore, went up given the predicament the Pats and Bill Belichick now face, thanks to that gamble on Dennard. Todd France, who represents Talib, wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t jack up the price for his client. So the Pats must tag Talib as a stopgap measure. And that’s just the beginning of the dominoes sure to tumble in wake of the Dennard verdict and future sentencing. Locking in Talib doesn’t solve the problem. The Pats could still be down a starter for a significant time. So they either have to move Devin McCourty back to corner, even though his better position is safety, hope Ras-I Dowling finally figures it out and can stay healthy, spend more money in free agency than they would like on a corner (perhaps Sean Smith) or once again roll the dice in the draft — perhaps twice. Remember, too, that Kyle Arrington, their top slot corner, is also a free agent.
Verdict: Aqib Talib must get tag
Boston Herald | Feb 21