An unusually slow start to free agency for Redskins

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Rocca re-signed but no big moves come 

The start of free agency often meant the beginning of yet another Redskins offseason championship. Not this time. Now it meant the start of a quiet period.

The Redskins did make one move on the opening day of free agency, re-signing punter Sav Rocca to a two-year deal. But that was the lone move on a day that featured the Redskins in the unusual role of spectators.

Some players they had contacted this past weekend signed elsewhere, such as cornerback Greg Toler, who went to Indianapolis. There is reported interest in corner Aqib Talib, who was drafted in Tampa Bay by current Redskins general manager and played under secondary coach Raheem Morris. However, the Redskins likely would have a tough time affording the talented but troubled player.

The good news for the Redskins is that one of their biggest needs happens to be a crowded one: cornerback. They did not contact Derek Cox or Kyle Arrington as of Tuesday night. They had previously expressed interest in Antoine Cason as well. There's also a chance that DeAngelo Hall could return after getting cut Monday. But according to NBC-Channel 4, Hall has drawn interest from a handful of teams including Dallas, Minnesota and the New York Giants.

Another league source said the Redskins were checking out offensive tackles, too. They don't have a starting right tackle with Tyler Polumbus unsigned. They have maintained contact with Polumbus but also are said to be exploring their options. There aren't many right tackles on the market, though there is reported interest in Winston Justice. The best right tackle is Sebastian Vollmer, but he'd likely be too expensive.

All in all it's a sign of the times for Washington, crippled by the loss of $36 million in cap space in 2011 and '12. The Redskins are approximately $2 million under the salary cap after signing Rocca and restructuring Santana Moss' contract. They lowered Moss' cap hit to around $2 ?million in what amounts to a pay cut for him. He can earn money in incentives.

However, they only need to go by the Rule of 51 for their salary cap, taking the cap numbers of the 51 highest-paid players. That frees up other money, but any big move eventually will result in either another player being cut or more contracts being restructured (or pay cuts taken). They have to be under the cap for 53 players when training camp starts.

Still, the lack of space could cost them Pro Bowl special teamer Lorenzo Alexander. Alexander's agent tweeted his client will have a new team, but would not say which one when contacted. Alexander said he hadn't decided, but the leading contenders likely are Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Alexander said two weeks ago, "I'm willing to take less for the Redskins, but they have to be close. They can't be way off." But the Redskins haven't been able to get close, and with other pressing needs, they could let him leave.

Rocca, 39, was expected to return. He averaged 43.9 yards per punt last season after a 43.1 yard average in 2011. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee in January, but at the time said he would be ready by April.

The Redskins also re-signed defensive end Kedric Golston to a three-year, $5.2 million contract. Golston has been a valuable reserve for Washington since joining the team in 2006.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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