(Associated Press)

The Redskins have expressed interest in free agent defensive backs Aqib Talib and Mike Mitchell, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The Redskins aim to upgrade a secondary that struggled last season as Washington yielded 29.9 points a game, which ranked second-highest in the NFL.

Talib, who spent the past two seasons with the Patriots, is regarded as one of top cornerbacks on the free agent market, which opens on Tuesday. He long had been regarded as one of Washington’s top free agent targets. He has ties to people within Washington’s organization, having played for secondary coach Raheem Morris while in Tampa Bay, and Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen drafted Talib when he held the same position with the Buccaneers in 2008.

Washington had interest in signing Talib last season, but couldn’t afford him, and he wound up re-signing with New England on a one-year deal. It remains to be seen if they will be able to meet his asking price this year. He is believed to be seeking a contract that would pay him $9 million to $10 million a season.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Talib, 28, recorded 41 tackles and four interceptions in 13 games of action last season.

Meanwhile, Washington is high on Mitchell, a sixth-year safety, who last season recorded 66 tackles and four interceptions for the Carolina Panthers. The Redskins reached out to his representatives soon after the league’s negotiation window openedat noon on Saturday. They remained in contact with Mitchell’s camp, speaking with them several times throughout the day, one source said.

The Redskins have many needs, including inside linebacker, wide receiver and offensive line, and it remains to be seen how they will divvy up their remaining cap space. (They had roughly $30 million in cap space, but have dedicated $11.455 million to outside linebacker Brian Orakpo by designating him with the franchise tag). Washington also re-signed veteran DeAngelo Hall to a four-year contract worth $4.25 million per season, earlier this offseason. One league insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the Redskins seem intent on “making a statement at DB” this offseason, however.

Players can’t sign contracts until 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

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