Keeping tabs on cornerback market

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
10:00
AM ET
One of the notable dynamics in play with negotiations between the Patriots and cornerback Aqib Talib is the handful of other top players at the position scheduled for free agency.

Talib
Talib
With Monday marking the deadline for teams to assign the franchise tag, we're keeping tabs on those top cornerbacks as it relates to Talib. The franchise tag at the position is $11.8 million on a one-year tender.

Alterraun Verner (Titans) -- Jim Wyatt, the ace beat reporter from the Tennessean, has maintained for weeks that the club isn't expected to use the tag but would still like to retain him.

Vontae Davis (Colts) -- Similar to the Patriots with Talib, the Colts are working on a deal to retain Davis. Even if it isn't completed by Monday's deadline, the Colts don't plan to use the franchise tag on Davis, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

Brent Grimes (Dolphins) -- Another similar situation to the Patriots and Talib, the Dolphins have targeted Grimes as their top priority in the cornerback market. They don't plan to use the tag to retain him, but ProFootballTalk.com cites a source saying a long-term deal is more likely than not. (Update: The Dolphins announced they have re-signed Grimes. It is a four-year deal, Grimes tells ESPN's Josina Anderson.)

Aqib Talib (Patriots) -- The expectation is that the Patriots will follow the same path as the Titans, Colts and Dolphins and pass on the franchise tag for Talib while continuing to work on a longer-term deal.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Broncos) -- Not considered a franchise-tag candidate, the Broncos still hope to retain him, which puts him in a similar situation as the other top cornerbacks.

QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: The snapshot above reflects that it would be a surprise if any of the top cornerbacks receive the franchise tag by Monday's deadline. The $11.8 million on a one-year tender is a big hit on the salary cap, and the feeling from here has been that would be the ballpark in bonuses/guarantees that a team like the Patriots might be thinking on a longer-term deal with Talib. This is a time when teams/agents are getting a better feel for what the market might be for a No. 1 cornerback (it was a bit soft last year) and once the first domino falls, the others figure to follow soon after. It's just a matter of which one falls first. That's why we'll be keeping a close eye on Verner, Davis, Grimes and Rodgers-Cromartie, in addition to Talib. With Grimes re-signing Monday, the next step is getting a closer look at the specific financial terms because they should provide a framework for where the Patriots and Talib might potentially wind up.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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