Gauging perception on Aqib Talib

The free-agent status of cornerback Aqib Talib will be closely monitored here in New England and it's interesting to gauge the perception of him locally compared to more of a national scope.

Talib's return is viewed as vital from this perspective and is the first place any free-agent Patriots discussion begins. But when comparing Talib to the rest of the free-agent cornerback crop, it also shows that he's one of several top players at the position scheduled to hit the market.

We were reminded of this after reading NFL.com's "Around the League" blog and its list of top 25 NFL free agents, followed by a similar list produced by USA Today's Nate Davis.

On both lists, Talib ranked No. 16. That's also where ESPN.com's Mike Sando had Talib on his "must-sign" list.Insider

NFL.com has Talib as the fourth best corner behind Tennessee's Alterraun Verner (6), Miami's Brent Grimes (10) and Indianapolis' Vontae Davis (12). In USA Today, Nate Davis has Talib as the fifth-best corner, adding Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ahead of him as well.

If not for Talib's injuries in each of the last two years, he would probably rank higher, although I'd still put him No. 1 from a Patriots perspective.

The big takeaway from here is that with several top cornerbacks set to hit the market in 2014, this doesn't look like a situation where the demand will outweigh the supply. That could create a similar dynamic as 2013 which was more of a buyer's market.