FOXBORO -- Looks like we got ourselves an interesting poker match shaping up between the Patriots and Aqib Talib.
The free agent-to-be met with the media briefly in the Patriots locker room Monday and -- while he acknowledged "enjoying" his time in Foxboro -- he did not state that it was his preference to stay with the team.
"Man, we gonna let everything . . . there's a business side of the business and all that," said Talib who the Patriots traded for in November. "I definitely enjoyed being a Patriot."
Talib's importance to the well-being of the New England defense was underscored in the second half of the AFC Championship on Sunday.
Talib pulled a hamstring in the first quarter breaking up a pass intended for Anquan Boldin. It took Baltimore a while, but they eventually took advantage of the absence of the Patriots lone "shutdown" corner.
"Worst way to go out in any game let alone the AFC Championship," Talib responded when asked about leaving early.
Talib said the hamstring "just wasn't strong enough to go compete at that level."
Talib, who turns 27 on February 13, signed a five-year, 14 million deal when he entered the league in 2008 as a first-round pick out of Kansas.
Talib hasn't been a model citizen during his NFL tenure and that will drive down his free-agent price and could even drive away some suitors.
But if it were based solely on ability, Talib could command a 30 million deal (San Francisco's Carlos Rogers signed a four-year, 29.3 million deal in 2012; Cortland Finnegan signed for five years and 50M).
Talib will be in a position where he'll decide whether comfort and enjoyment wins out over a whirl on the free-agent runway.
"I had a lot of fun," he said. "I definitely enjoyed my time here. We'll see what happens in the future but I definitely had the most fun I had playing football in a long time here."
Prodded further, Talib stayed firm.
"I'm in the training room with the guys, we're having fun, right now I'm still a Patriot," he protested. "Free agency don't start till March so until then, I'm still a Patriot."