The New England Patriots have two top-notch impending free agents to take care of before the March 11 deadline, and it seems likely that the team will be able to keep both cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver Julian Edelman. While Edelman isn’t a candidate to receive the franchise tag, the tag could be placed on Talib in an effort to extend the negotiation window with the team’s unquestioned No. 1 corner. Both players were crucial to the team’s success this past season, and losing either one of them would be a tough blow. While the Patriots are expected to keep both guys, you never know what will happen in free agency.
Talib’s asking price is going to be interesting to see, and I have a feeling he is dead set on hitting the free agent market and earning a lucrative contract. He could have signed a multi-year deal last offseason, but he wisely chose to bet on himself with a one-year, prove-it deal worth $5 million (similar to the deal signed by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie). The free agent market at corner is far less saturated this offseason, and that definitely bodes well for the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss wrote in his must-read “Quick-hit thoughts” column today that he thinks Talib will earn $6-8 million per year this season on a three or four year deal. He also believes that the Patriots will be able to keep Talib, and $6-8 million is certainly a reasonable asking price for a top corner. I’ve been critical of Talib in the past (even going as far as to call him “slightly overrated”) due to his ability to get burned, but he is a very good corner and excels in press coverage. He has some hitches to his game, but those can be corrected further through more good coaching. It’s clear that he’s an integral part of the Patriots defense and is only going to get better. The Patriots aren’t going to get coaxed into overpaying for him either, so they’ll make the right call; the only worry with a guy like Talib is whether or not his cost will match up with his value.