Recent failures aside, few coaches have done a better job of reclaiming lost players the way Bill Belichick has during his career with the New England Patriots.
And the only thing resting on whether Belichick can rehabilitate Aqib Talib, who had his share of disciplinary issues in four-plus seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is another Super Bowl title. While the Patriots won't get a chance to unveil Talib – described by one NFC executive as "a $10-$12 million-a-year talent" – for another week as he serves the remainder of an NFL-mandated suspension for using Adderall, the fact is that Belichick hasn't had a cornerback this physically gifted since Ty Law.
CB Aqib Talib recorded 18 INTs in his career with the Buccaneers. (AP)That gives Belichick a chance to turn the deal for Talib – acquired for a fourth-rounder – into one of his greatest trades, which is no easy feat. During Belichick's 13 years with New England, he has pulled off some of the most lopsided deals in NFL history. While not all of his deals have worked (the 2011 trades for Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco were notable flops, even if they didn't cost much), the Talib deal has a chance to rank among his top five ever.
Here's the list of Belichick's best trades for the Patriots:
1. Acquiring Randy Moss for a fourth-round pick in 2007
Belichick pulled off the first of two significant deals with Oakland's Al Davis when he picked up a future Hall of Famer for what effectively became journeyman defensive back John Bowie. Moss returned to his Hall form for the next three years before being dealt in 2010.
2. Acquiring Wes Welker for a second- and a seventh-rounder in '07
Belichick's 2007 offseason might be one of the most brilliant in NFL history when he rebuilt his receiving corps and changed the direction of his offense in two remarkably cheap moves. Belichick got Welker for picks that eventually turned into journeyman center Samson Satele and defensive end Abraham Wright.
3. Shipping Drew Bledsoe for a first-rounder in '02
The most remarkable part of this deal is not that the Patriots turned the pick into Ty Warren, who played seven seasons with the Pats; it's that they got so much for a guy who had just lost his job to Tom Brady. Then again, that's the price tag for a starting-caliber quarterback and Buffalo paid.
4. Shipping Tebucky Jones for (eventually) Corey Dillon
In another example of Belichick extracting value for a subpar player, he dealt Jones, a safety with limited cover skills, to New Orleans in '03 for a third- and a seventh-rounder in that year's draft and a fourth-rounder in '04. Belichick then dealt that third-round pick to Miami for a second in 2004. He then dealt the second to Cincinnati for Dillon, a guy who was the center of his offense for two years, including the Super Bowl XXXIX title season.
5. Shipping Terry Glenn for a fourth-rounder in '02
Glenn had a fine career and even had a bit of a renaissance after this deal. However, he wasn't a good soldier during the 2001 season and butted heads with Belichick. The Pats ended up with defensive lineman Jarvis Green, a valuable backup and sometime starter on two championship teams.
Randy Moss didn't hide his love for Bill Belichick and the Pats after he was dumped. …6. Shipping Moss in '10 for a third-rounder
After Moss wore out his welcome, Belichick still managed to turn him into something of value. He dealt Moss in midseason to Minnesota for a third-round pick in 2011. That pick has turned into backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The jury is still out on Mallett, but Moss was cut by Minnesota after only four games.
7. Acquiring Ted Washington for a fourth-rounder in '03
Washington played only one season in New England, but he was a vital cog in a Super Bowl-winning team as the Pats' defense ranked No. 4 in the NFL that season. The Bears shipped the fourth-round pick to the 49ers.
8. Shipping Richard Seymour in '09 for an '11 first-rounder
This deal was (and to an extent still is) one of the more controversial trades in Belichick's career. This was done just as the 2009 season started and many viewed it as a huge step backward for the Pats' defense. Seymour remains a productive (albeit expensive) player for Oakland. In 2011, the Pats used the pick to get Nate Solder, who is now the starting left tackle. So far, the Raiders have gotten more productivity, but the Pats hold all the upside.
9. Shipping Matt Cassel (and Mike Vrabel) for a second-rounder in '08
While Belichick was criticized for not getting more for Cassel, he had to move fast because Cassel was on a franchise tag. Cassel is now trending back down to backup status. The Pats used the pick to draft safety Patrick Chung, a solid-if-unspectacular starter.
10. Acquiring Deion Branch for a '11 fourth-rounder in '10
The back-and-forth dealing of Branch to and from Seattle is worthy of a long feature, but the end results have been just so-so. The Pats originally traded him to Seattle in '06 for a pick that turned in Brandon Meriweather (that deal was an ineffective draw). The Pats got Branch back in '10 and he immediately returned to being a reliable target. Seattle got linebacker K.J. Wright in 2011 with the draft pick, giving them the long-term upside on the deal.