Aqib Talib is gone, traded to the New England Patriots on Thursday afternoon for a 2013 fourth-round pick.
The move came too soon for some, but not soon enough for others.
Funny thing is, what ultimately doomed Talib wasn't his ability, it was his inability to stay out of trouble. He was seemingly never too far away from his next off-the-field episode or run-in, the shadows of his past hanging over him every step of the way.
Good, bad or indifferent, Talib is out of the picture.
At its very core, the trade is about more than the harsh realization of opportunity lost—what could've been but wasn't. It's become the fact that, instead of celebrating his accomplishments, we're deliberating his worth.
Evidently, the Bucs decided he was no longer in their long-term plans and opted for draft compensation rather than off-the-field tribulation.
As a result, the Bucs are now left with a secondary full of relative youth and inexperience. But the other side of that is that we'll get to see what the future looks like.
Keep an eye on Keith Tandy, too.
He's listed as a safety but played cornerback at West Virginia and is third on the depth chart behind Ronde Barber and Cody Grimm. Given how suddenly thin the Bucs are at corner, Tandy may be called upon.
Then of course, there's Anthony Gaitor, who was placed on the I.R./Designated for Return list in Week 6.
By rule, he won't be eligible for the active roster for eight weeks from that point, putting his possible return to action Week 14 versus Philadelphia.
Gaitor showed considerable promise heading into the season but has yet to see action due to the hamstring injury that landed him on IR.
Lets face it, the secondary has been and will continue to be an area of concern for the Bucs. Trading Talib doesn't change it any more than if he were still here (see: Nicks, Hakeem).
But by season's end, we'll know whether or not Johnson or E.J. Biggers are solutions. The same for Tandy and Brandon McDonald, too.
And while their names may not initially solicit thoughts of batted passes or pick-sixes, they're who the Bucs have from this point forward.
The next generation of Bucs defenders have the chance to respond to the opportunity before them.
Ready or not, tomorrow is upon us.
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