BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots did not place the franchise tag on cornerback Aqib Talib before Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
The lack of a franchise tag means that Talib is set to become a free agent when free agency begins on March 11.
Talib, 28, signed a one-year pact with the Patriots worth $5 million last offseason. The franchise tag was believed to have been in play this season for the Patriots, but the team ultimately decided to not give Talib the one-year deal worth more than $11.8 million.
He proved to be much more valuable than his $5 million deal last year, as he provided the Patriots with the best cornerback the team has had in years. However, Talib battled through a hip injury, and he was unable to play through the AFC Championship Game after taking a hit by Wes Welker over the middle of the field , and the Patriots eventually lost.
Talib is a veteran of six NFL seasons, the first four-plus coming with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was traded to the Patriots midway through the 2012 season and he returned an interception for a touchdown in his first game with New England.
The Patriots did not use the franchise tag in 2013 for the first time five years. The tag was placed on Matt Cassel in 2009, Vince Wilfork in 2010, Logan Mankins in 2011 and Wes Welker in 2012. In that group, only Welker played the season for the franchise tag figure. Cassel was traded to the Chiefs, while Mankins and Wilfork each agreed to long-term, big-money extensions with the team.