The Washington Redskins have been connected to cornerback Aqib Talib for about a year now. Last spring, they couldn't afford him. This spring, they can. And considering Talib's resume as well as his relationship with current Redskins defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, it's time the 'Skins finally pull the trigger and bring Talib to town.
On the eve of free agency, reports from multiple sources, including ESPN's John Keim, state that the Redskins have already established contact with Talib's agent. Again, not surprising. But things are about to get real for a team that finally has money to spend.
League-imposed salary cap sanctions made it tough for the 'Skins to operate the last two offseasons, but now they have over $20 million in cap space, according to OvertheCap.com. Free agency isn't an ideal way to rebuild or reload, but this is a roster filled with holes and Washington is once again without a first-round pick.
They've got no choice but to spend money, and cornerback is the obvious place on which to spend it. Since the start of 2012, only two defenses have surrendered more passing yards than Washington, and now they look as though they'll lose a longtime starter in Josh Wilson.
The safeties have stunk just as much as the corners, but the 'Skins drafted a pair of players at that position last year, and the jury is still out on both Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. David Amerson was the only corner added in last year's draft, and youngsters Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield still have a lot to prove from a health and productivity standpoint.
That leaves them with DeAngelo Hall, who is a playmaker but needs help due to the chances he takes, and Amerson, who also has to prove he's a starting-caliber player.
Talib would be the immediate No. 1, freeing up Hall to get creative and giving them a chance to hone the young guys.
Against Talib, who is only 28, opposing quarterbacks posted a combined average passer rating of only 72.3 in 2013. No Washington corner was close to that mark.
|Opposing passer rating vs. select cornerbacks, 2013|
|Corner||Team||Opposing passer rating||Rank|
|Pro Football Focus|
For the first four years of his career, Talib was coached by Morris in Tampa. The Redskins have a similar defense, and those two could bring out the best in each other. Talib went through some tough times during that early stretch with the Buccaneers, but by all indications he's become a mature leader as his career has progressed.
He'll cost a lot of money, especially based on the bloated contract Sam Shields received this weekend from the Packers. But the 'Skins have to swing the bat on a corner who can start, and Talib makes the most sense. He'll at least likely come cheaper than Alterraun Verner, whose contract might be in a separate range from Talib, Captain Munnerlyn, Walter Thurmond and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
If the 'Skins are going to take a chance on anyone, it should be Talib.