BOSTON (CBS) — Monday is the deadline for NFL teams to place the franchise tag on players, and it looks as though the Patriots won’t use their tag for the second straight season.

That means Aqib Talib will hit the free agent market, but The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe says the corner remains a priority for New England this offseason.

“I’ve been saying for about two months now that they’re not going to franchise him; it just doesn’t make sense financially,” Howe said on Monday’s Toucher & Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “They probably want to sign him for three years at $21 million with a max of $25 million with incentives. If the Patriots franchise him it’s $11.8 million right off the bat. He can say ‘if I was going to get a $21-25 million deal I’d probably get $12 million guaranteed anyways. If I can get that for one season why would I do anyone a solid and let them roll that over into three years when I could be cut after two?’ That’s why the Patriots aren’t going to franchise him; they concede all the leverage.

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“If they think they’re a few dotted I’s and crossed T’s from getting [an extension] done, it makes sense to franchise him today… but then any hopes of signing him for three-years and $24 million goes out the window,” added Howe. “Then you’re looking at a four-year deal up to $32-35 million, which is a lot for one player the way the Patriots spend their money.”

“The Patriots are working with a limited cap, at least until they start restructuring some deals or cutting a few players. They can’t spend $12 million on one guy,” said Howe. “They’ve been talking with Talib. It’s an ongoing thing and they met with his people at the combine. It sounds like signing Talib is a priority, but I don’t think it makes any financial sense today to use the franchise tag as a fallback option.”

The Patriots’ other big-name free agent this off-season is wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is coming off career year in which he had 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. Edelman signed for the veteran’s minimum last season, but is expected to get a big pay-day this off-season.

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“Because of what happened last year, they let him test the market for a month and then he signed a minimum deal, he’s only made $3 million in his first five seasons. He’s coming off 100 catch season, this kid owes it to himself to test the market,” said Howe. “I know the Patriots have shown interest, but I would be surprised if he signed before free agency because this is his really big chance to go out and get paid.”


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