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Need to Know: Free agency gets underway for Redskins, NFL

Need to Know: Free agency gets underway for Redskins, NFL

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 12, two days before NFL free agency starts.  

Get ready for a wild week

Free agency gets underway this week, although interesting and game-changing transactions have been taking place around the NFL since the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30. Here is what the calendar looks like over the next week and how it affects the Redskins.

Negotiating period begins, today, noon—Even though agents have been talking to teams about possible player contracts since at least the combine and probably earlier, they can do so openly without fear of tampering charges coming into play starting today at noon. Players can’t visit teams or talk to them directly, and while contracts can be negotiated, they can’t be signed until Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Redskins will be working the phones, talking to agents for their free agent targets. They also should check in with their own free agents they want to keep to see what is up with them.

All of the following happens at 4 p.m. on Wednesday when the new league year starts:

Restricted free agents must be tendered—The Redskins had three pending restricted free agents but they have signed Quinton Dunbar and Deshazor Everett. That leaves Ty Nsekhe still up in the air. Ideally, the Redskins would like to sign him to a multi-year deal. If they do tender him they have to be careful about what level they use. If they go with the first refusal tender with no compensation a team could be tempted to sign him away. If they get up into the second-round level (about $2.7 million one-year deal) they end up overpaying for a backup. Any restricted free agents who are not tagged by the deadline become unrestricted free agents.

Salary cap top 51 kicks in—The top 51 cap numbers on each team’s roster must add up to a number that is less than each team’s salary cap number. The Redskins have plenty of breathing room, sitting about $31 million under the cap. The teams that have some work to do are the Dolphins and Eagles, who are $3 million and $9.8 million over the cap per, well, Over the Cap.

The trading period begins—As we know, this is merely a technicality. A team could back out of an agreed-to deal before this but it would severely damage that team’s credibility for future dealings.

Free agency begins—It’s no holds barred, with players able to meet with teams and contracts can become finalized. Adding a wide receiver and holding on to Zach Brown among the items on the Redskins’ to-do list.

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.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 35
—NFL Draft (4/26) 45
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 181

In case you missed it

Redskins and NFL free agency tracker: Giants move on from DRC

Free agency season reminder: The devil is in the contract details

Need to Know: Redskins salary cap notes and nuggets

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After seeing Aaron Rodgers go down in 2017, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix knows how to support a backup QB

After seeing Aaron Rodgers go down in 2017, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix knows how to support a backup QB

It's a new team but the same storyline for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in 2018.

Last year while with the Packers, Clinton-Dix was there as Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone against the Vikings in Week 6. 

Now a Redskin, the safety is coming off of a game where he and his teammates watched Alex Smith badly break his leg while facing the Texans.

So, in just more than 13 months, he's seen two franchise faces go down with long-term injuries. That means when he talks about how the 'Skins can succeed with Colt McCoy leading the way, he's speaking from experience as opposed to trying to imagine it.

"You just have to rally behind him," Clinton-Dix said Tuesday, just two days before Washington's showdown in Dallas on Thanksgiving. "Colt is a great quarterback, he's a winning quarterback. I have a lot of confidence in him. The way he approaches the game, I have a lot of confidence in that as well."

The defensive back is just the latest to compliment how McCoy prepares, something he's been doing for years now, just waiting for his next opportunity to come up. Now it's here, and Clinton-Dix wants the defense to make things as easy as possible on the passer.

"Find a way to give more," he said about what he can do to contribute from the other side of things.

Rodgers did eventually return for Green Bay, but by that time, an inexperienced Brett Hundley had slogged through a 3-6 record, and the Packers were too far out of the playoff hunt, even for Rodgers.

This time around, McCoy's veteran presence is something that's easing Clinton-Dix's mind. 

"I'm not worried about Colt," he said. "I'm excited to watch him go out and play."

Clinton-Dix was worried about McCoy at one point, though.

The defender played for Alabama from 2011-2013 but was paying attention to the signal caller when Texas squared up with the Crimson Tide in the 2010 BCS National Championship. That was a contest that McCoy had to leave early on after hurting his shoulder.

That exit affected history, according to Clinton-Dix.

"If it wasn't for him getting hurt back when he was playing against the Alabama boys, I'm pretty sure we would've never won that game."

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So your starting QB is injured. What does the front office do next? A former GM explains

So your starting QB is injured. What does the front office do next? A former GM explains

So what happens in the front office when a player like Alex Smith is injured in the middle of a game? Former Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly spoke to NBC Sports Washington about what happened in his experience when a player was injured. 

Every Friday, I would have a meeting. I would go through scenarios for every position on our 53-man roster. If we lost any player, what was our scenario? 

This isn’t done in a vacuum – every day, certainly in the offseason, your coaches are involved with personnel. Grading players. You’re talking to your head coach almost every day about players so you know how he thinks. Now, I was never with a head coach that wanted to discuss an emergency list on Friday so I had a pretty good idea of where his thinking was, where our scouts' thinking was going into the game. 

I remember one time when we were in Houston. We lost a nose tackle in the first half and we had his replacement on the plane by the end of the game because it was that cut and dry. We knew who we would sign. And you’re in competition with 31 other teams so you can’t wait around.

Now, sometimes, it’s not cut and dry. You didn’t have a guy in training camp, or you didn’t have a guy who you had worked out earlier in the year.

We’d do that sometimes – we’d bring in guys to work out even though we didn’t need anybody. So we would have the workout done and we would just bring them in. We’d make sure they were still in shape, but we didn’t have to have a tryout of three or four people. So with the Redskins, I’m sure you’re sitting there, you have an emergency list and you go to the emergency list. You talk to the coach right after the game, in this case, and get the coach’s opinion. He may want to get their opinion. And then you’re on the phone and the potential replacement’s on the plane that night. 

They’re operating on a short week, so they have to bring a guy in on Sunday and have him working out on Monday so you can sign him and put him right in the meeting room. Normally, you could do it on Tuesday for a Sunday game. 

Someone from the operations staff picks them up from the airport in a regular car and nobody ever had an issue with that. You bring them in the right before. We give them a written schedule. We put him through a workout – we usually had our coaches work him out. Sometimes if the coaches weren’t available, it would be the scouts. Then he would meet with the position coach. They would at least see the head coach – if we signed him, of course, he’d meet the head coach.

We filmed the workouts, so we could take a look at him. We’d have scouts grade the workouts and write a report on him. The coaches would get a copy of the schedule, they get bios and scouting reports of the players coming in so they would know a bit about him when they met him. 

There’s a simple reason why you work him out. These guys, they have to go right out and practice. We had guys that would come in on Tuesday that couldn’t get through a practice and you want them to go out in practice, so they’re not going to be any good to you – let alone play them in a game. 

Most of the time we’d have him run a 40 and really the second 40, if it was far off his first, it would tell us something about his conditioning. We knew we wouldn’t get top performances because while they were out of camp, you’re not sure what kind of shape he was in. We knew they were all training, but the question is, how hard were they training?

So that’s the procedure. You talk to the agent, usually, there’s not much negotiating in the deal. Who called them varied – oftentimes it was who knew the agent the best. Or it could be the contract negotiator. Or sometimes, when I was the general manager, it could be me.

You sign them to a one-year contract.

It’s usually cut-and-dry because they want to play and many times you don’t have extra money to fool with and they understand that. 

When you bring in a lot of guys to try out, it tells you that it's a true tryout. If you're bringing in two guys, you may bring in two just to bring one in. You may bring in two because you want to be covered in case the one you think you're going with doesn't work out. 

So when you bring in multiple guys (like the Redskins did), it tells you it's true tryout.

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