The Redskins, as expected, have released veteran defensive tackle Diron Talbert, the last of George Allen's Over the Hill Gang.
Paul Smith, another aging defensive tackle, also was released by the club. But he announced his retirement yesterday, ending a 13-year NFL career.
Talbert, who played 10 years with the Redskins after being acquired from the Los Angeles Rams as part of Allen's first major Washington trade, becomes a free agent Sunday. His contract was not renewed by Washington and now he can be signed by another team after April 15 without any compensation due the Redskins.
Washington has decided to send either a qualifying offer or required option renewal to 20 other players, including quarterbacks Kim McQuilken and Mike Kruczek, defensive end Coy Bacon, linebackers Monto Coleman and Rich Milot, halfbacks Buddy Hardeman and Bobby Hammond and defensive tackle Perry Brooks.
The club will begin contract talks with all 20 in an attempt to sign them before the start of training camp.
Talbert's release comes as no surprise. He said near the end of the season that he wouldn't be back with the Redskins next season, although he feels he could play another year in the league.
"Diron has had a great pro career and contributed a lot to the Redskins' success over the years," General Manager Bobby Beathard said. "But it came down to a matter of whether we wanted to go with younger players or not.There comes a time when you have to make a break and we thought this was the time."
With the departure of Smith and Talbert, the Redskins are left with only two defensive tackles on their active roster: Dave Butz and Brooks. Pat Ogrin, a rookie from Wyoming who spent last season on injured reserve, will be a candidate for one of the open spots and the Redskins would like to sign Bruce Clark, who played in Canada last year. There also is the possibility that end Karl Lorch could be moved to tackle.
"Our No. 1 draft priority remains a defensive lineman, particularly a defensive tackle," Beathard said. "We need some young talent, a gifted pass rusher. We think we can get one."
After starting briefly midway through the schedule, Talbert finished the 1980 season as a seldom-used reserve behind Smith, 35. He last played full time in 1978 before sharing a defensive tackle spot in 1979 with Smith.
Talbert, 36, broke in with the Rams in 1968. When Allen left Los Angeles to take the Washington job, he engineered a deal that brought six players, including Talbert, and a draft choice to the Redskins in exchange for seven draft picks.
Talbert quickly became a team leader and defensive standout. His verbal war with the Dallas Cowboys in general and quarterback Roger Staubach in particular became a central focus of the Redskin-Cowboy rivalry. s
Other Redskins who have either received qualifying offers or had their options renewed are punter Mike Connell, tight ends Phil DuBois and Rick Walker, defensive lineman Dallas Hickman, receiver Zion McKinney, defensive back Ray Waddy, tackles Jerry Scanlan and Mike Gibbons, halfback Ike Forte, centers Dan Peiffer and Jeff Bostic and guard Dan Nugent.