No franchise tag for Aqib Talib

The NFL's franchise-tag deadline has passed and there are no surprises from a Patriots perspective.

The one candidate to potentially receive the tag in a long-shot scenario, cornerback Aqib Talib, was not tagged. A franchise tag for cornerbacks was $11.8 million on a one-year tender, which is a significant hit on a team's salary cap.

This means that Talib can hit the open market without restrictions on March 11. He can start negotiating with other teams on March 8.

Talib, who turned 28 on Feb. 13, quickly emerged as the Patriots' No. 1 cornerback after he was acquired in a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in November 2012. He was a free agent last offseason, as well, re-signing with the Patriots on a one-year, $5 million deal.

Injuries knocked him out of the AFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons, and Talib's health was a concern previously raised by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

"[Talib] wasn't on the field a lot of the time since he's been with us," Kraft said at the Super Bowl. "It's a balance, of us balancing all that out and what is he worth. I think he's happy here and would like to be here. We're happy with him and we'd like to have him here. Now it's just about doing business."

Talib played 13 games in the regular season in 2013. He was often used to match up against opponents' top pass-catchers, from Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson to New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham. Talib totaled four interceptions, and coaches credited him with 13 pass deflections as he earned his first career Pro Bowl berth.