FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It didn't take long for cornerback Aqib Talib to show his value to the Patriots. As soon as he arrived in New England at the trade deadline, he bolstered the Patriots' defense and helped fuel their run to the AFC Championship Game.
Whether Talib will continue to make that impact for the Patriots in the future is up in the air, as he is set to enter unrestricted free agency this offseason.
For now, Talib isn't focused on what that process holds for him.
"I'm not really worried about all that right now," he said Monday. "Like you said, the game was 12 hours ago. I'm in the training room with the guys, we're having fun right now. I'm still a Patriot. Free agency doesn't start 'til March, so until then I'm still a Patriot and just enjoying my time."
Asked if it was his preference to return to the team, the 26-year-old replied, "That's the business side of the business. I definitely enjoyed being a Patriot."
He echoed that the short time he spent with the team was among the most enjoyable stretches of his NFL career.
"Man, I had a lot of fun here man," he said. "Definitely enjoyed my time here, we'll see what happens in the future, but I definitely had the most fun I've had playing football in a long time here."
Head coach Bill Belichick was asked about bringing Talib back during his Monday morning press conference, but stressed that it's too early to make decisions on a player's future.
"We will not make any decisions on any players into the future now," he said. "You just can’t do it. There are too many factors, too many unknown things. All the things I said about Aqib, I meant and I still feel that way. Nothing has changed, but I can’t put into place an entire plan for the team at this point in time. There’s just not enough information; it’s too early.
"And again, as I said, I don’t think you can, as much as you want to just go case by case and list each guy and what his deal is, I think that there is some of that, no question -- but at the same time, when you're trying to put together a team, you’ve got to look at the entire team before you just say, 'OK, well, we want to try to keep this guy. Well, we don’t want to keep this guy' or 'We want to try to get somebody else,' or whatever," he continued. "You’ve got to look at the entire context of the team and not just take it one guy, piece by piece. I don’t think that's the way you put together an entire football team. You’ve got to see the big picture and how it all fits together and there are a lot of factors that go into that. That’s why it takes some time."
Losing Talib to a thigh injury was a tough blow for the Patriots' defense on Sunday, and a difficult experience for the player himself.
"Man, that was the worst way to go out in any game, let alone the AFC Championship," he said.
He said that after working with members of the team's medical staff inside the locker room, it was determined that he would not re-enter the game. Ultimately, the Patriots' defense did not have enough answers for the Ravens, and the secondary was forced to reshuffle its depth chart with Talib on the sidelines.
While his future with the team remains unclear, Talib is confident that the Patriots are well positioned for another successful season in 2013.
"[This is] one of the best teams in the league," he said. "Y'all know that."