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Aqib Talib might be the Patriots' top priority to re-sign this offseason, but that doesn't mean he'll be back.

In Talib's own words, sometimes you've just got to, "Cash that check, baby", and the star corner may just have a big one coming his way.

Talib had a dominant first half of the season, but was later limited by injury. Ultimately, his injury problems may be enough to keep his price down for a return to the Patriots. Still, the corner that Richard Sherman ranked among the league's best will have plenty of suitors. Here are five teams that could be after Talib this off-season.

1. The New England Patriots

Let's take care of the obvious one first. The Patriots probably have the best chance out of everyone to bring Talib back. Why? They should have the cash to do it (though perhaps not much else if they do) and it's a scenario Talib is familiar with, and maybe in love with?

Talib effused plenty of praise for the Patriots organization at the end of the year, saying that his NFL career really only began when he was traded to the Pats. The organization seems to have been good for Talib. Famous for his off-field trouble in Tampa, he's had no incidents while in a Patriots uniform.

Talib has been good for the Patriots too, almost single handedly fixing a shaky pass defense. The Pats clear number one corner often took on the assignment of taking on a team's best receiver, and was able to shut down or limit them quite regularly. Enough to earn him his first Pro Bowl honor. His importance to the team has been clearly demonstrated in the team's two AFC Championship losses, where Talib went out with an injury and the team defense instantly fell apart.

Ultimately, that could cause the Pats to pass on Talib though. Robert Kraft suggested earlier this week that his injury problems will factor into a potential deal. If the Pats don't want Talib at his asking price, there are plenty of others team that might bite.

2. Washington Redskins

The Redskins were very interested in Aqib Talib last off-season, however they had no means of signing him due to being so close to the cap.

Since Talib only signed a one year deal with the Pats, hoping to cash in come March, the Redskins will get a second shot and be much more prepared. Washington is still in need of a corner and are now actually among the teams with the most cap space. Specifically, they have the fourth lowest salary on the books in the league.

Of course, there have been some major changes in the Redskins organization since last year. Coach Mike Shanahan is gone, and as a result Talib's former head coach in Tampa, Raheem Morris, was brought onto new coach Jay Gruden's staff as the defensive backs coach.

One might think that if Talib's old coach has the chance to coach him again, that might be the type of connection that brings Talib to Washington. This could actually be a detriment though, Talib was traded from Tampa for a reason - his off-field issues. Those issues included at least one confrontation with Morris. It's very possible that Morris will be asked his opinion on Talib, since he'd be coaching him directly, and his review would not be very flattering.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Aside from the Philadelphia Eagles, the Minnesota Vikings were the worst team in the league at defending the pass. Their 31st rank came with 287.2 yards allowed per game through the air. In addition to the yards, they also gave up the single most passing touchdowns in the league with 37 and were only 24th in the league in interceptions.

The reason? Not only do they play against some of the most dangerous passing attacks in the league within their division, but they also have virtually no one at cornerback. Chris Cook was the longest tenured one on the team, and he has yet to record an interception in his career.

Luckily for Minnesota, plenty of good corners will be available this off-season, including Aqib Talib. The Vikings have plenty of money to spend as well, with currently only $102,057,745 on the books, which is the sixth lowest salary in the league.

Talib has proven over his career that he has the ability to shut down or at the least limit top flight receivers. A team that's in the same division as Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and then another team Quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers is going to need that type of skill set. The Vikings can afford it, it's just a matter of whether Talib will chose money over winning, as so many often do.

4. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders' situation is quite similar to the Vikings'. They were near the bottom of the league in pass defense (28th), passing TDs given up (2nd most) and they were 2nd to last in interceptions (they had 9). They also don't have much talent at the cornerback position on their roster. Last year they relied on guys like Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins to stop quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers within that division. It worked out appropriately.

So, the Raiders desperately need to bring some talent to their secondary if they are to have any hope of turning things around. Aqib Talib could certainly factor into those plans. The Raiders have the lowest salary in the NFL, so even though their rebuilding plan is a long term one, they have the room to spend on Talib if they believe he can be a cornerstone for their defense for many years.

5. Indianapolis Colts

Talib made a bit of a splash in his debut as a Patriot, taking an Andrew Luck pass back to the house in November of 2012.

Since then he's been putting his reputation as a troubled soul behind, and now has himself as one of the best corners in the league. Ironically, it all started against the Colts, and it could net Talib a nice contract with them.

While the Raiders, Redskins and Vikings make sense as far as need and money, they don't offer an opportunity to contend for a championship. The Colts would.

Indy has been knocking on the door the last few years, and a stud on defense might be able to push them to the next level. The Colts had a decent enough pass defense last year, good for 19th in the league, but their best corner Vontae Davis is about to hit free agency. Another free-agent signing from last year, Greg Toler, is a potential cap casualty this year. That leaves the Colts with not much in the secondary. Darius Butler was starting for them towards the end of the year.

They could look to bring Davis back, or upgrade the position by signing Talib. They certainly have the money to do it with the third lowest salary in the league. Colts GM Ryan Grigson has also shown a tendency to make splashy moves, the original trade for Vontae Davis and also this year's Trent Richardson trade the prime examples.

Dark Horse - Atlanta Falcons

If Talib wants to go back to his old division, the NFC South, the Falcons could use some help in their secondary.

They were one of the worst pass defenses in the league (29th) and really have no one on their roster that can handle themselves back there. After releasing the aging Asante Samuel, the Falcons will be on the market for a corner to shore up their pass defense. Talib could be the answer.

The Falcons, like the Vikings and the Raiders, have a couple of potent passing attacks to worry about in their division. There's the Cam Newton-Steve Smith duo in Carolina, Drew Brees in New Orleans and then Vincent Jackson in Tampa.

Atlanta can also probably afford Talib. They don't have as much cap space as the teams mentioned above (except the Pats) but they aren't in terrible shape at $116,987,301, which is around 9 million less than what the projected cap will be. Signing Talib may not allow them to sign any other big name free-agents, but after going from the NFC Championship game to 2-14, they may just be desperate enough to pull the trigger on a big name.

RELATED:

4 likely destinations for Julian Edelman

Unknown 2/12/2014 06:17:00 PM Edit
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