The New England Patriots patiently stayed out of the active cornerback market in free agency because they wanted to bring back Aqib Talib. On Saturday, they got their man.
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Talib will return to the Patriots on a one-year contract, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. NFL.com's Albert Breer reported, per a source, that Talib will earn $5 million in the deal.
Talib decided to sign the one-year contract rather than a five-year pact in hopes of cashing in afterward, Rapoport and Breer reported. The cornerback passed on three other options to remain on the Patriots.
Concerns about Talib's off-the-field behavior depressed his market in an already soft cornerback market. He didn't get the long-term contract he wanted or even a big one-year figure. For the Patriots, $5 million is a relative bargain.
Breer reported that Talib had interest from three other teams and a five-year deal on the table from the Patriots. But Talib didn't want to take a long-term offer in this market. Like so many others during this free agency period, Talib will "bet on himself" and hope that he improves his free-agent value with a strong season.
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Talib was the Patriots' best cornerback after arriving in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a trade, but that's not saying much. He still gave up a lot of big plays overall. The Patriots also brought back Kyle Arrington on a four-year deal, so their secondary might not have a lot of huge changes in 2013. Safety Patrick Chung left for the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Patriots signed veteran Adrian Wilson to replace him.
Still, Talib was the key piece to it all. The Washington Redskins were interested in Talib because they have his former coach, Raheem Morris, on staff. Talib is the most talented cornerback the Patriots have had since Asante Samuel. Bill Belichick gets another year to bring that talent out of Talib.