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Redskins keeping their cards close in free agency

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

The legal three-day tampering that started Saturday has amounted to nothing more than a poker game. And it's hard to know who's bluffing, who's serious and what ultimately will happen Tuesday when free agency actually begins.

What's clear from the Redskins' standpoint is that they want to attack their secondary. They've already reached out to free agent cornerbacks Greg Toler, Antoine Cason, Derek Cox and, reportedly, Sean Smith. Which of those players will they ultimately land? Tough to say.

Maybe someone else such as Kyle Arrington sneaks onto the list as well. Maybe someone else nowhere near the list will emerge. It's happened before. One thing Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does well is keep information tight.

The reality is this portion of the process is new to the general public. These conversations have always taken place. There always has been tampering, so it's not as if some green flag was dropped and the process began. This is just another step; it's not the first one, nor is it the last. One agent said teams could start taking different turns Monday. Another predicted "serious business" starting now that the weekend is over.

Just what the Redskins will do remains uncertain -- except for the fact that they must cut salary to get under the salary cap. That could mean the loss of players such as DeAngelo Hall, Santana Moss and Adam Carriker.

But it also means they're going to have to rely on developing their young talent rather than trying to rely on players who proved themselves elsewhere. In other words, it will be much like last season. They took a step up as a franchise largely because they were fortunate and were bad (and aggressive) in a draft in which two premier quarterbacks sat at the top. To take that next step, they will need to find bargains in free agency and hope their young guys can help even more.

Meanwhile the Redskins still can sit in on the poker game. They just will be sitting at a different table than in the past.

- John Keim

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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