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Ten players the Patriots should target in free agency

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1. Cornerback Aqib Talib

Photograph By Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Talib, soon to turn 28, plays a premium position and has done so at a very high level since arriving in New England. Lockdown cornerbacks who can shadow opposing teams' top wide receivers are hard to find, but Talib fits the bill. He'll likely command a multiyear deal with guarantees in the vicinity of eight figures, but given his value to the defense, his fit within the locker room, and the importance of retaining the nucleus of a much-improved secondary from 2013, Talib qualifies as a top priority for the Patriots. If he bolts elsewhere in free agency, there's a legitimate question as to whether the Patriots have a number-one cornerback on their roster right now. Alfonzo Dennard lacks the necessary speed and size to evolve into a number-one cornerback (he's an ideal number two), and while Logan Ryan stood out with five picks last season, he's still in the early stages of his career, making it more difficult to project his long-range outlook. -- Yates