The first day of free agency came and went with two of the Washington Redskins’ one-time top-tier targets signing elsewhere for handsome contracts, and a third agreeing to a lesser deal, but a payday that still proved too expensive for the Redskins’ taste.
Safety Mike Mitchell agreed to a five-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers worth a reported $25 million.
Then safety Jairus Byrd agreed to a six-year, $54 million contract with New Orleans with $28 million guaranteed, according to multiple reports.
And shortly before midnight, cornerback Aqib Talib agreed to a six-year, $57 million deal with the Denver Broncos. His contract featured $26 million guaranteed – an impressive payday for a player with great talent, but who has never played a full 16-game season, because of injuries and suspensions.
It was always questionable as to whether Washington would be able to meet the demands of Byrd or Talib – both regarded as the top players at their position in this free agent market. Their plentiful needs and the $11.455 million committed to the franchise-tagged Brian Orakpo made it difficult for them to devote hefty portions of their remaining $18.58 million of cap space to just one or two players.
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Washington had only “casual conversations” with Byrd’s camp, a person with knowledge of the situation said. It quickly became clear he wouldn’t fit the Redskins’ budget. The Redskins continued pursuits of Mitchell, but were outbid by Pittsburgh, and later had to bow out of the race for Talib. New England was thought to be the leader to work out a deal with Talib. But the Broncos pulled off the surprise move, hours after signing Cleveland strong safety T.J. Ward to a long-term deal.
Now Washington appears likely to try to find bargain deals while still seeking answers at safety, cornerback, inside linebacker and possibly right tackle.
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