There are a number of key unrestricted free agents when it comes to the New England Patriots, but none are of greater importance than Aqib Talib. Talib must be Nick Caserio‘s No. 1 priority this offseason.
The first option should be to re-sign Talib before the free agency period begins. Doing so is obviously going to cost a pretty penny. It’s all about guaranteed money in the NFL, so Talib will need to fairly compensated if he is to sign a long-term contract.
If you look at the highest paid cornerbacks in terms of guaranteed money, a guy like Brandon Carr could set the bar for Talib. Carr received $25.5 million in guaranteed money over a five-year contract. Talib has played better than Carr before Carr received that contract, so Talib will demand more guaranteed money.
So the only thing to figure out is the amount of years that Talib should receive. Considering that he is about to be 28, it is only fair to go for five years. So a contract for five years in the range of $27 million to $30 million is fair compensation.
The other route that Caserio could use is the franchise tag. While the numbers for the franchise tag are not in yet, it is expected that the number for cornerbacks will be around $11.3 million. And presuming that Caserio does not want Talib to go anywhere else, the tag would probably be of the non-exclusive variety.
Either option would be burdensome to the Patriots salary cap, but it is a toll that must be paid. Talib is a top-five cornerback in the league and is in the middle of his prime. One simply does not let a player of that caliber walk away.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.