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Cost Of Cornerbacks Falling, Which May Benefit Redskins

With several marquee cornerbacks coming off the board in recent days – some on affordable salaries – it appears the Redskins may have a chance at snagging a quality player for cheap.

BY ZAC BOYER

With Aqib Talib agreeing to return to New England on a one-year, $5 million contract early Saturday, according to multiple reports, the well is starting to run dry on cornerbacks.

The Redskins were reportedly heavily interested in Talib, 27, who was considered one of the top players available at his position. Washington’s salary cap room, however, has been an issue – as in, they have no money – and the team has missed out on several elite cornerbacks as a result.

When free agency began, the cornerback position was one that was in extreme supply. The number of eligible players grew significantly in the days before the start of the new league year as well, with several teams releasing players primarily because of the size of their contracts.

That should have given the Redskins hope that a good player would be available at a reduced cost. Indeed, that still seems possible; in recent days, as cornerbacks have found a home, others have accepted one-year deals that would allow them a chance to re-enter free agency a year from now.

Here’s a brief look at some of the top cornerbacks available and the reported values of the contracts they’ve signed:

* Talib, New England: one year, $5 million

* Sean Smith, Kansas City: three years, $18 million ($11 million guaranteed)

* Derek Cox, San Diego: four years, $20 million ($10.25 million guaranteed)

* Keenan Lewis, New Orleans: five years, $26 million ($11 million guaranteed)

* Greg Toler, Indianapolis: three years, $14.25 million ($5 million guaranteed)

* Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: one year, $5 million

* Antoine Cason, Arizona: one year, $2 million

Shortly after free agency began a year ago, Cortland Finnegan signed a five-year, $50 million contract with St. Louis with $27 million guaranteed. A day later, Brandon Carr signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract with Dallas with $25.5 million guaranteed.

While it can be argued whether one would rather have Finnegan or Cox, it’s not debatable when the money is considered. In fact, two cornerbacks who signed big-money deals last year – Stanford Routt with Kansas City and Aaron Ross with Jacksonville – were already released.

What’s next? If the recent market correction has been of any indication, it’s possible that someone like Brent Grimes or Nnamdi Asomugha would accept a similar short-term deal. Antoine Winfield, who will be 36 by the time the season starts, is almost assured to sign such a contract.

Then there’s DeAngelo Hall, who was released the day before free agency because his $8 million salary cap hit was too much for the Redskins to take. Hall was open to restructuring his contract to stay with the team, but his release likely signaled that he and the Redskins were far off on terms.

With Hall unsigned as of Saturday afternoon and head coach Mike Shanahan noting Monday he’d be open to having the cornerback return, the market has undoubtedly restricted his value. He’d be far more likely to sign a one-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $3 million now just to have a job.

It all comes down to money – and the Redskins still don’t have much.

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