Aqib Talib established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league this season. The New England Patriots secondary leaders constantly shut down top receiver after top receiver each Sunday for the team. At 28, he still has plenty of football left in him meaning the Patriots better open up their checkbooks before he hits the free agent market this offseason.
The dust is just starting to settle after the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game to the Denver Broncos. However, they do not have any time to wallow in their sorrows as free agency quickly approaches and Talib is at the top of the list in terms of player priority.
ESPNBoston.com is reporting their is mutual interest between Talib and New England regarding a contract extension. The cornerback was working off another one-year contract, but fully intends to remain in New England for the future. Talib recently told the Boston Herald that even though he has been in the NFL since 2008, he really feels like his career did not start until he arrived in New England.
"I've been in the NFL since '08," Talib said. "But I've really been in the NFL since November of 2012. When you grow up and you want to be in the NFL, this is what you think of. You think of this right here on this team right here."
Talib has had a string of off-the-field issues that soured his value a bit. However, he proved he was a true game-changer this season. Talib was knocked out of the AFC title game after a collision with wide receiver Wes Welker. He was hobbled with a knee injury and was unable to return to the game. The result was the Broncos wide receiving corps having a field day without the secondary leader. Head coach Bill Belichick later ripped the play as dirty, something Welker disagreed with.
"It was one of those plays where it's kind of a rough play and I was trying to get him to go over the top and I think he was thinking the same thing and wanted to come underneath and we just kind of collided," Welker said. "It wasn't a deal where I was trying to hit him or anything like that. I hope he's OK. He's a great player and a big part of their defense."
After Talib's injury, Manning put up 289 of his 400 total yards. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard admitted it was tough overcoming the loss of Talib as the Broncos' receivers were just too much for them. The Patriots will look to avoid letting this performance repeat itself and re-sign the cornerback.