TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Defensive back Aqib Talib #25 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to intercept a pass against the Houston Texans during the game at Raymond James Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times is reporting that the case against Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib for assault with a deadly weapon has been dismissed by Dallas County prosecutors. Stroud spoke to Talib's attorney, who noted that "the chief complaintant is a repeat child molester and has prior cases of the same nature." Aqib Talib was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after a March, 2011 shooting involving his mother, his sister and the sister's boyfriend. Apparently, the prosecutors did not think there was sufficient evidence to get a conviction, and Talib can walk away from this unscathed.
This is obviously good news for Talib and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lack depth at the cornerback position. Talib is easily the team's most talented cornerback, and has been consistently productive if somewhat inconsistent throughout his career with the Bucs. Aqib Tailb is entering the final year of his rookie deal and it's not at all clear whether the Bucs want to keep him going forward. Although Talib has reportedly done everything they've asked him to do this offseason and stayed out of trouble off the field, the question is whether they can trust him to stay out of trouble going forward. The Buccaneers have at least said that everyone would get a fresh start under head coach Greg Schiano, and Talib has so far done his job.
Despite the dismissal of the case against Talib, Roger Goodell could still spoil the party. Goodell has suspended players without a legal conviction before, most notably Ben Roethlisberger after allegations of rape surfaced repeatedly, but no charges were filed. Talib could face a suspension for repeatedly getting into off-field trouble, as he was suspended for one game after allegedly battering a cab driver in 2009. If the Bucs are to miss Talib for a number of games in 2012, they will likely turn to Eric Wright as his natural replacement.
With Talib's legal issues resolved, it's also possible that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to trade the supremely talented cornerback in the final year of his contract, if they aren't willing to keep him for the long term. This would leave the team with a massive short-term hole at cornerback, but they would at least get some return for Talib. The Washington Redskins would be a natural fit, as former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris is their defensive backs coach. In addition, Bruce Allen is the Redskins' general manager, and he originally drafted Aqib Talib in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft.