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 and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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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