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Can Redskins afford to be in the bidding for Aqib Talib?

Aqib Talib upends Fred Davis as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in September. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post) Aqib Talib upends Fred Davis as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in September. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

There is mounting speculation within the league that the Redskins might attempt to sign cornerback Aqib Talib when the NFL’s unrestricted free agent market opens at 4 p.m.

It is unclear, however, whether the Redskins would be able to outbid the New England Patriots, Talib’s current team, and squeeze a big contract for him beneath the salary cap.

The Redskins ranked 30th in the league in pass defense this past season and are in need of help at cornerback, especially after Monday’s release of veteran DeAngelo Hall. Talib has a connection to the Redskins because he formerly played for secondary coach Raheem Morris with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But Coach Mike Shanahan estimated Monday that the Redskins were only about $1 million beneath the salary cap and said the team will have to proceed cautiously in free agency. Redskins officials said Monday they’d abandoned hopes of regaining some of the $18 million salary cap reduction they must absorb this year in time for the opening of the free agent market.

Talib was traded to the Patriots last season after spending his first four full seasons with the Buccaneers. He has 19 interceptions in his five NFL seasons. Talib was a first-round draft pick by the Buccaneers in 2008. He was suspended by the NFL for the 2010 season opener for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy stemming from an incident with a cab driver in 2009. He was suspended for four games last season for violating the NFL’s policy on banned performance-enhancing substances. Talib said the suspension was due to Adderall use.

Several media reports, including one by USA Today, have linked Talib to the Redskins. One person familiar with the team’s planning said it was clear the Redskins would like to have Talib but it is not clear if the team would have a reasonable chance of fitting him under the salary cap.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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