The New England Patriots have a big decision to make with cornerback Aqib Talib. While maintaining his reputation as a shutdown defense player, Talib had several injuries in 2013, leaving the Patriots to question his future with the team. Now a free agent, could the Patriots say goodbye to one cornerback, could they bring back a former one?
Talib's future in New England is not looking great. The Pro Bowler is finishing off a one-year contract of $5 million and while that was certainly a bargain for the Patriots considering all that the secondary star did for the team, owner Robert Kraft is sounding reluctant to give him a new deal.
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"Well we want to retain all the good players we can retain," Kraft said on WBZ-AM, via CSN New England's Tom Curran. "It's not like we have unlimited funding so ... He wasn't on the field a lot of the time since he's been with us. It's a balance of us balancing all that out and what is he worth," Kraft continued. "I think he's happy here and would like to be here and we're happy with him and we'd like to have him here and now it's just about doing business."
Talib's impact was significant so not re-signing the veteran would certainly deplete the secondary. Talib could be given the franchise tag, but Curran believes that Patriots will not use that move considering all of the other free agents they have on the roster. A tag for a cornerback is projected to be a $11.25 million this upcoming season. The Patriots are not looking at taking that on.
So, could they bring back a cheaper and familiar option to take his place? The Atlanta Falcons announced the release of cornerback Asante Samuel who will now hit the free agent market. Samuel was drafted by the Patriots back in 2003 and spent five seasons as one of the best secondary stars in the NFL. Likely to command little money at age 33, could the Patriots bring back Samuel to finish out his career?
ESPNBoston.com reports Samuel returning to the Patriots is highly unlikely. While he did play his best football in New England, Samuel struggled during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. He spent more of last season injured and the team was not looking to waste money on the veteran.
Samuel's time as a starter is finished. He lost out on his starting spot last season to two rookies who stepped up while he was injured. Bill Belichick is not looking to a veteran like Samuel in. He will get work, but it might not be at the price he is hoping for.