The former first-round pick has spent much of his time off the field destroying his career on the field. The Bucs' potential cover corner of the future has been accused of punching a cab driver and threatening a woman following a minor traffic accident (both cases were settled, the former out of court), and he twice fought teammates. Most serious, in the 2011 off-season Talib, 26, was charged with shooting at his sister's boyfriend near his home in Dallas. (Charges were later dismissed.) But the Bucs think they have an antidote to Talib's troubles: They persuaded him to live year-round in Tampa and to tone down his life outside of football for the sake of his long-term career. "Coach [Greg Schiano] said that everyone has a clean slate," says G.M. Mark Dominik, "and that includes Aqib. He knows it's a big year. It's a contract year."
Indeed it is. Talib is talented—he has 17 interceptions over four years—and if he can be on his best behavior and fill the role the Bucs need him to (especially with Ronde Barber moving from cornerback to safety), then Tampa Bay would consider re-signing him. For his part, Talib has been praising Schiano's approach. "He's exactly what this team needed," Talib says of the former Rutgers coach. "If you don't want to work hard, you're in the wrong place."