Aqib Talib is nothing if not honest, including with himself. Just days ahead of the 2020 NFL season getting underway, the chain-snatching 34-year-old remains a free agent and many expected he'd sign with a team sooner or later, and possibly later than sooner, with at least a handful of teams expected to have interest in adding him to their roster. That won't be the case though, with Talib taking to Twitter to announce his formal retirement from the NFL -- concluding one of the best careers by a defensive back in recent memory.
"Aqib Talib is officially retired," he said in an interview released on social media.
This wasn't his first idea going into 2020. As a matter of fact, Talib confessed he nearly reunited with the New England Patriots -- with a specific defensive assignment -- offered directly by head coach Bill Belichick himself. For Talib's part though, after looking deeper into it, he felt it best he hang up his cleats instead of doubt himself against some of the best competition in the NFL.
"... I told myself personally, I need to play one more year, so as long as somebody gives me a nice check -- of course I'm coming," he said. "Or, if somebody gave me a nice role. My guy, my big homie, Bill Belichick called my phone and told me he had the role of a lifetime for me. He really wanted me to come in and strap tight ends.
"I was halfway out the door. I got flights and started finding apartments. I could've gotten up to five or six million [dollars] -- a nice contract. ... But I started going through that schedule. I saw [George] Kittle, [Travis] Kelce, [Darren] Waller, and normally when I go to a new team, my thoughts are all positive. ... This time, I looked at this f-----g schedule, and I thought, 'Can I even strap these damn tight ends?'
"I said it's over with. Once that thought crossed my mind, my heart and competitive edge just aren't in it like that anymore. [Plus] you turn 34 and you lose a step. You don't move the same way you used to move, so I just wasn't feeling it anymore. You have to play this game with heart."
A former 20th-overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008, Talib spent time with the Patriots in the early 2010s before going on to win a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. From there, he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, who then reunited him with Brian Flores in Miami one year later, but he'd land on injured reserve and not log a snap for the Dolphins. The attempted courting of Belichick makes sense given the familiarity with the five-time Pro Bowler and the fact the Patriots lead the league in COVID-19 opt outs, but there will be no renewing of the vows in New England.
On a day that saw his former Rams teammate, Talib ends his 12-year NFL career having logged 134 starts in 148 games, and delivering 462 combined tackles (385 solo), 35 interceptions and 10 defensive touchdowns -- putting him in the discussion for the Hall of Fame one day in the future.