The Sun says Redknapp moved a step closer to replacing Sam Allardyce as Toon chief yesterday when he ducked questions about his future - by doing a runner from Portsmouth's training ground.
England hitman Defoe, 25, has been told by Spurs boss Juande Ramos he can leave White Hart Lane.
And that has given Redknapp the signal to try and bag the man he took through the ranks when he was in charge at West Ham.
With Michael Owen's fitness problems refusing to go away, the Toon could do with Defoe to bolster their attacking ranks.
Redknapp, meanwhile, is in no rush and will wait until he meets Ashley to hear his plans and hammer out a deal which would see him bag a £20m four-year deal.