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Key 2016 offseason dates and what they mean for Kirk Cousins, the Redskins

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Key 2016 offseason dates and what they mean for Kirk Cousins, the Redskins

The Redskins' season may be over, but a team's work never really ends. Here's a look at the league's important dates—and what they mean for the Skins—leading up to training camp in Richmond this summer:

Jan. 26—Redskins GM Scot McCloughan will hold a press conference to discuss the 2015 season and 2016 offseason in Mobile, Ala., where he’ll be scouting the Senior Bowl.

Feb. 8—Waiver system begins for 2016. This is the earliest date that the Redskins can cut ties with quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as other players.

Feb. 16—First day for teams to designate franchise or transition player tags. The player to watch here, obviously, is quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Redskins' most important free agent.

Feb. 23-29—Scouting Combine, Indianapolis. Much of the NFL world descends on Indy to get an up-close look at this year’s top college prospects …and, perhaps, lay the foundation for free agent deals.  

March 1—Deadline (4 p.m.) for teams to designate franchise or transition player tags. Again, this could be a newsy day...if Cousins has not been re-signed.

March 7-9—Teams are permitted to contact the agents of pending free agents. Contracts, however, cannot be signed with a new team until 4 p.m. on March 9.

March 9—2016 league year and the free agency period begin at 4 p.m. The Redskins currently have 21 players with expiring contracts, including starters Kirk CousinsAlfred Morris, Terrance Knighton, Darrel Young, Mason Foster, Will Compton, Junior Galette and Will Blackmon, among others. A team can re-sign its own free agents at any time, however. Griffin must be released by this date or the guarantee on his $16.2 million option for 2016 will kick in.

March 9—Rule of Top-51 begins. All teams must be under the projected $150 – $153.4 million salary cap by 4 p.m.

April 18—The Redskins (and all other teams with returning head coaches) can begin offseason workout programs.

Mid-April—The NFL will announce a finalized 2016 schedule. We already know the Redskins’ opponents. They'll host the Browns, Packers, Vikings, Panthers, Steelers, Eagles, Giants and Cowboys and will travel to the Cardinals, Lions, Ravens, Bengals (in London), Bears, Eagles, Giants and Cowboys. Yeah, that sounds harder than 2015's slate.

April 28-30—2016 NFL Draft, Chicago. The Redskins hold the 21st overall pick and eight picks overall, including two in the seventh round.

April 30—After the final selection is made, teams can begin signing players (UDFAs) who were eligible for the 2016 draft.

May 6-16—Teams can hold a three-day rookie minicamp.

Late May – mid-June—The Redskins will hold three OTA sessions and a mandatory minicamp. The team typically announces the exact dates in late March or early April.

July 15—Final day for teams to reach a long-term extension with players who were franchised. Another key date for Cousins if, of course, he was franchised.  

Late July—The Redskins will open training camp in Richmond.    

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Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the FedEx Field end zones ditched their usual gold trim for some pink instead. As it turns out, burgundy and pink go quite well together.

The reason for the change was to celebrate the Redskins Breast Cancer Awareness game as well as the 20th anniversary of Tanya Snyder's THINK-PINK! campaign.

Mrs. Snyder started the movement two decades ago by passing out 8,000 handmade pink ribbons at the team's stadium meant to remind people that early detection of breast cancer can make a major difference.

Now, her campaign has gone league-wide and is the reason you see so many players wearing pink in October, fans waving pink towels in the stands and other awareness-raising initiatives throughout the NFL.

"Very, very, very proud," Snyder said while handing out ribbons before the Washington-Carolina game. "We're not finished, but we are making a difference with early detection. So I'm beaming." 

For more information on Snyder and the NFL's breast cancer efforts, head to redskins.com/thinkpink. And for more details about the events held at FedEx Field during Week 6, check out the video above.

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Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

If you want to, you can find plenty of things wrong with the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers. The home team was up 17-0 in the second quarter and yet had to hang on as the Panthers reached the red zone with a chance to win in the last minute. The game got tight because the Redskins continued their second-half scoring problems, putting up just six points. Alex Smith passed for just 153 yards. 

But you can’t poke holes in the fact that the Redskins are 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Sure, there is a long way to go. But consider this—a Redskins schedule that looked rough at the beginning of the season doesn’t look quite as tough. In fact, right now the Redskins have a better winning percentage than any team they will play in their remaining 11 games. 

Yes, that’s right. They have six games to play in the division, two each against the Cowboys and Eagles, both now 3-3, and the 1-5 Giants. Their two remaining games against the NFC South are against the 2-3 Bucs and the 2-4 Falcons. The schedule is rounded out with games against three AFC South teams, the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars. All three of those teams are tied atop the division at 3-3. 

Of course, you can’t expect all of these teams to still be wallowing around .500 when they face the Redskins. It looks like the Eagles and Falcons are on the upswing and in today’s NFL any team can get hot at any time. 

And, as the Redskins demonstrated in their Week 2 loss to the Colts, they are capable of losing to a weak team. They still have plenty of issues they have to correct if they plan on maintaining their winning record and staying in contention for the division title. They won’t survive if they continue to have difficulty scoring in the second half (their only second-half TD this season came in garbage time against the Saints). They need to get more sacks from Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who have one combined. Plenty of details need to be ironed out. 

But the fact that they are a flawed team doesn’t take away from the fact that they got a quality win over the Panthers. Carolina was 3-1, coming off of an 11-5 playoff season. On top of that, the Redskins had not beaten the Panthers since 2006, a stretch that included an 0-4 record against Cam Newton. They didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this year and they got a season-high three takeaways. Christian McCaffrey came into the game averaging 83 yards per game and left it averaging 70 after picking up 20 yards on eight carries. 

With all of that said, the Redskins still have to overcome their inconsistency. They have won two games in a row just twice since the beginning of the 2017 season. Nobody is going to believe that anything is different about the Redskins until they can string together three or four wins in a row. Until then, skepticism will abound. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler