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Five things you need to know about NFL free agency

Five things you need to know about NFL free agency

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 11, the day NFL free agency starts.

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Here are five things to watch for today as the free agent frenzy gets underway at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

1. “Interest” does not equal a “contract”—We have been hearing of Redskins “interest” in a lot of players and we will continue to hear about it. That doesn’t mean that the Redskins want to sign all of those players or even any of them. Sometimes agents will play up even minor interest in their clients to make it seems like the player is in high demand.

2. Expect to hear a lot about players being overpaid—The salary cap increased by $10 million, about $6 million more than the teams expected. Teams can’t sit on cap money like they used to as they have to spend 89 percent of their available money over a four-year period per the CBA. Oh, and the cap will continue to grow and players signing this year are going to want a piece of that, too. In short, a lot of players are going to make a lot of money and, in the opinions of many analysts, they will be making too much.

3. Wait for the contract numbers—When you first hear that Player A has signed with the Redskins for X dollars over Y years, take a deep breath before going on an “overpaid” rant. Wait about 24 hours or so until the details of the deal come through. Chris Baker’s deal shrunk dramatically from the original report of 3 years/$12 million when it was revealed that a million bucks a year of that was incentives he probably won’t make.

4. Highest priorities don’t get filled first—If the Redskins’ first signing is of, say, a backup outside linebacker, don’t go screaming that they have no inside linebackers or where is the safety help. Deals don’t necessarily get done in order of need they get done in the order that the negotiations are finalized. The are working multiple fronts at once.

5. It’s not over after a couple of days, or even a month—Don’t get all bent out of shape if there is still a hole or two at the end of the week. Players will continue to sign deals for the rest of the month. Teams will take a break to see what they get in the draft and then there will be a few more singings after that. And then after they see what they have during OTAs and minicamps another small wave of signings will take place. Finally, as teams look around when training camp is starting they might look for a few players who have lowered their asking prices considerably.

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Timeline

—It’s been 72 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 180 days until they play another one.

—Days until: Offseason workouts start 27; NFL Draft 58

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Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

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USA Today Sports/AP Images

Where does Stefon Diggs' remarkable catch rank among some of the best NFL playoff walk-offs?

There is nothing quite like January playoff football and Sunday night's Vikings vs. Saints game further proved this point.

In case you have been off the grid the past 12 hours, the Minnesota Vikings literally got a last second win against the New Orleans Saints.

With 10 seconds left in the fourth and facing a 3rd and 10, quarterback Case Keenum heaved the football near the sideline to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who dodged two defenders while managing to stay inbounds for a 61-yard touchdown as the clock expired. 

It was one of the most remarkable playoff walk-off wins, if not the most remarkable one, in football.

So, where does it stand among the others?

RELATED: FORMER TERP PLAYS HERO IN VIKINGS' MIRACLE PLAYOFF WIN

Broncos vs. Steelers 2011 AFC Wild Card game: Remember Tim Tebow's 80-yard overtime touchdown to Demaryius Thomas during the 2011 Broncos vs. Steelers AFC Wild Card game? It was the first and last snap of overtime and it was wild.

Mile High Miracle: On third and three with 43 seconds left in the game, Ravens' Joe Flacco launched one towards wide receiver Jacoby Jones, who got in front of the Broncos receiver and ran the ball in for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown. The Ravens would eventually go on to win the game in double overtime. Some could argue it was the defining moment in the Ravens' Super Bowl run. 

Cardinals vs. Steelers Super Bowl XLIII: Under the brightest lights of all, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds in the fourth in the back of the end zone for a toe-dragging, Super Bowl-winning catch. 

RELATED: WHAT REDSKINS CAN LEARN FROM THIS WEEKEND'S PLAYOFF GAMES

Saints vs. 49ers 2012 NFC Divisional game: Sunday's loss wasn't the first time the Saints have experienced a fourth quarter letdown. Back in 2012, Alex Smith threw one to the endzone on 3rd-and-three with 14 seconds left that sealed a win.

While these are only a few, we can't wait to add more to the list in years to come.

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Redskins can't base Kirk Cousins decision on the makeup of the final four

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins can't base Kirk Cousins decision on the makeup of the final four

For many fans who would like to see the Redskins move on from Kirk Cousins, the case was closed by the results of the divisional playoff round.

When the dust settled from the weekend, three of the four winning quarterbacks were Nick Foles, Blake Bortles, and Case Keenum. In Foles and Keenum, two journeymen who were free agents last March, available to any team that had a million bucks or so of salary cap space. Bortles was the third overall pick of the 2014 draft but he was widely viewed as a big-time bust.

MORE REDSKINS: WHAT CAN THE REDSKINS LEARN FROM THE PLAYOFFS?

So, to some the lesson was that you can roll any random quarterback out there and if you have some other pieces in place you can get to the final four.

Not so fast, my friend. Such thinking is based on a small sample size. This year is very much an outlier in terms of the quarterbacks who make the conference championship games. Let’s expand the sample size and look at the final four QBs standing in the previous six seasons.

2016: Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger

2015: Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Brady

2014: Russell Wilson, Rodgers, Brady, Andrew Luck

2013: Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, P. Manning, Brady

2012: Kaepernick, Ryan, Joe Flacco, Brady

2011: Brady, Flacco, Eli Manning, Alex Smith

There are 13 different quarterbacks here. Ten of those, Ryan, Rodgers, Brady, Roethlisberger, Newton, Palmer, Wilson, the two Mannings, and Luck, are true franchise type quarterbacks. Of those, five were first overall picks in the draft, Ryan was the third pick, and Roethlisberger was the 11th, and Rodgers went later in the first round. Only Wilson and Brady were late-round finds.

Of the three others, Smith (1st overall) and Flacco (18th) were first-round picks. Kaepernick was a high second-rounder.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

At the time of their playoff games, all of the 13 quarterbacks were on the teams that drafted them. None of them were looking for work the previous March, or at any time, for that matter.

As the Redskins decide if they should make a desperation attempt to retain Cousins or let him walk and start over at the most important position on the field, which data point should they consider? The most recent season in front of them, or the six prior years (and many more before that)?

Let’s say you’re looking to sell your house and you want to figure out a fair price. One comparable house down the street recently had sold for $200,000. But the previous six houses that sold in the last couple of months all went for around $300,000, Are you going to price your house based on the most recent sale? Or are you going to factor that in but pay much more attention to the six previous sales?

You have to step back and look at the larger sample size before using a particular set of facts as even a partial basis for a major decision with far-reaching ramifications.

With all that said, there are other factors at play besides what other teams have been able to accomplish. There are plenty of valid reasons for moving on from Cousins and those may outweigh the case for keeping him. But pointing to three quarterbacks on four teams and saying, “case closed” is way too simplistic an approach.

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