The Patriots’ decision to acquire cornerback Aqib Talib  from Tampa Bay at Thursday’s trade deadline is an intriguing one — potentially of the low-risk, high-reward variety — but one that comes with relatively few strings attached for New England.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound corner, who was acquired along with a seventh-round pick in 2013 for a fourth-round pick in 2013, has an excellent on-field rep — he has 18 interceptions and 53 passes defensed over the course of his four-plus years in the NFL. Talib was at his best in 2009 and 2010, when he finished with a combined 11 interceptions in 26 games played. In his career, he has 182 tackles, 53 passes defensed and 18 interceptions.
He brings an edge to the field, and if/when he gets up to speed in New England’s system, he has all the tools to become an impact player in the Patriots defense . For a secondary that has struggled mightily at times this season, the acquisition of a playmaker like Talib would be a huge addition.
He does come with some unpleasant history. A first-round pick of the Bucs in 2008, he’s already acquired a lengthy rap sheet. He was involved in a fistfight at the rookie symposium, the first of several fights with teammates over the course of his brief career, including one incident in which he swung a helmet at a fellow player. He was suspended in 2009 for an incident involving the alleged beating of a cab driver. In March 2011, police in Garland, Texas, issued a felony warrant for Talib’s arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after accusing him of firing a gun at his sister’s boyfriend.
And earlier this season, he was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He’s still under suspension for the decision — he has one game remaining on his ban. (Talib has said he took Adderall, a medication generally used to treat attention deficit disorder.)
However, it’s important to consider Talib’s current contract situation — he’s in the final year of a contract he signed as a rookie, and so the impact is minimal. Theoretically, if Talib messes up or the Patriots find he’s not a fit for their system, they can cut him and be on the hook for next to no money. (His base contract of $1.852 million breaks down to $109,000 a week. Fundamentally, he’s a nine-week rental. If he’s a fit in New England, the Patriots will revisit his contract situation at the end of the season.)
In addition, a Tampa Bay-New England swap is no real surprise, considering the cozy relationship between Patriots coach Bill Belichick  and Bucs coach Greg Schiano. The two became pals when Schiano was coach at Rutgers, and Belichick has gone after several former Scarlet Knights over the last couple of years, including cornerback Devin McCourty . (For what it’s worth, it certainly appears that relationship will continue into Schiano’s pro career — Belichick took a shot with a former Buc, tight end Kellen Winslow , earlier this season.)