New England Patriots: Alterraun Verner

Keeping tabs on cornerback market

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
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.

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

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 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.

Patriots free agents and perception

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
On Wednesday night, two media-based lists were passed along on top NFL free agents, from the perspective of viewing where Patriots players were placed.

Let's follow that up today, as Greg Bedard of has released the rest of his list (players 1-50) and the tandem of Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan has also unveiled theirs as well.

Bedard has cornerback Aqib Talib as the No. 17 overall free agent.

"An unquestioned passion for the game and shutdown ability, but he's never played 16 games and his off-field problems aren't that far removed," Bedard writes, before adding that Talib's best fit is back in New England. "Both sides are comfortable with him there, and other teams might be reluctant to give him a big deal."

Bedard has Talib as the third best corner on the market, behind Tennessee's Alterraun Verner (No. 9) and Miami's Brent Grimes (No. 15).

Meanwhile, the Prisco/Kirwan list has Talib at No. 19 and the fourth overall cornerback behind Verner, the Colts' Vontae Davis, and Grimes.

Other Patriots on the list include:

No. 31 -- Julian Edelman
No. 68 -- Brandon Spikes
No. 95 -- LeGarrette Blount
No. 132 -- Ryan Wendell

QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: With some top cornerbacks all hitting the market at the same time, this could be a case where all it takes is for one domino to fall before the others fall into place. In that sense, when projecting Talib's potential return to New England, it almost can't be mentioned without factoring in Verner, Davis and Grimes because they all figure to be in the same general market.