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Need to Know: Redskins, NFL get ready to embark on a busy March

Need to Know: Redskins, NFL get ready to embark on a busy March

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 2, eight days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

NFL calendar over the coming week

The NFL is moving into March and the business season starts to pick up the pace. Here’s a look at the league calendar over the coming weeks.

Today—At 4 p.m., the deadline to designate franchise players passes. This has no direct effect on the Redskins; they are not going to tag anyone. But there is some interest throughout the NFC East. The Cowboys are certain to hit wide receiver Dez Bryant with the tag. Giants defense end Jason Pierre-Paul also will get tagged according to some reports that came out last month. And keep an eye on the Eagles where there are conflicting reports on whether wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will get the tag or be allowed to test the free agent market.

Saturday—At midnight the so-called “legal tampering period” begins and teams can talk to agents about contracts for free agents from other teams. It’s called that to separate it from the illegal tampering period, which has been going on since before the NFL Combine. Players can’t talk to teams during this period and contracts can’t be finalized but agents can gauge the market and formulate a game plan for the start of free agency.

March 10—The league year starts at 4 p.m. Even though it’s not technically legal, expect to hear reports of free agent signings throughout the day. How active will the Redskins be under new GM Scot McCloughan? Although he has expressed a philosophy of building through the draft and a general distain for free agency it appears that the Redskins will have to fill a few holes in the open market.

Teams must be under the 2015 salary cap by the start of free agency. The Redskins have no issue here. After a few moves late last week they are about $25 million under the cap. As of today only the Patriots ($7.6 million over) and Saints ($20.9 million over) have work to do to get under the cap.

March 22-25—The owners meetings take place in Phoenix. The rules committee is usually the focus here and this will be no different this year. The Calvin Johnson rule over what is a catch, known in some parts of Texas as the Dez Bryant rule, will be scrutinizes but some are saying it is going to be tough to make substantial changes to it. They also will look at the possibility of expanding the playoffs to 14 teams, expanding the roster to 55 players, eliminating the inactive list for Thursday night games, and other changes.

Looking ahead to next month, the Redskins can start their offseason workout programs on April 20 and the first round of the NFL draft will get underway in prime time on April 30.


—It’s been 64 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 195 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 8; Redskins offseason workouts start 49; 2015 NFL Draft 59

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

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Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

One head-scratcher from over the weekend was the Redskins’ apparent decision to hold on to defensive end Terrell McClain despite the fact that his 2018 base salary of $3.25 million would become fully guaranteed as of 4 p.m. on Sunday.

McClain missed four games with a toe injury last year and when he was playing he was not one of the top performers on the line. Perhaps he will improve in his second year in the defense but his performance certainly didn’t warrant a fully guaranteed salary.

Sunday came and went, and McClain was still on the roster. However, there was a change regarding the eight-year veteran. According to John Keim of ESPN, the Redskins and the player agreed to remove the full guarantee of the 2018 salary and change it to an injury-only guarantee.


The change will help alleviate what could be a numbers crunch down the road. The Redskins normally carry six defensive linemen. They have four keepers in Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. They have been trying to sign a free agent D-lineman like Johnathan Hankins and if they fail to do that they are likely to take one early in the draft. That would mean that five of the roster spots are spoken for.

If McClain had the guaranteed salary that might lock him into that sixth spot, leaving Ziggy Hood, a favorite of the coaching staff, on the outside looking in. The removal of the full salary guarantee levels the playing field between McClain, Hood and another possible free agent or draft pick when it comes to competing for that last roster spot.

If McClain loses out in the battle for a roster spot in training camp releasing him would save about $3.4 million in 2018 cap space. However, there would be a dead cap charge of $2.5 million in 2019. If his salary had remained fully guaranteed his departure would have caused a net cap charge of about $2 million.


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