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Need to Know: The NFL business season gets underway for Redskins

Need to Know: The NFL business season gets underway for Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 6, 31 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 23
—NFL Draft (4/27) 80
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 216

With the season over, looking ahead

The Super Bowl is over and now the Redskins and the NFL start to get down to the business end of the game. Here are some key dates coming up.

Today—Teams can release players who are on their rosters starting today. Don’t look for the Redskins to make any moves immediately. But they could soon move on from DB DeAngelo Hall ($4.25 million salary cap savings), OL Kory Lichtensteiger ($3.5 million), or TE Derek Carrier ($1 million). Also, in what is more of a technicality, the injured reserve list is cleared and all players under contract are on the roster, which has an offseason limit of 90 players.

RELATED: Niners' interest in Cousins waning?

Feb 15-March 1—This is the window for teams to give the franchise or transition tags to players who are pending free agents. I think you’ve read plenty about the Kirk Cousins saga so I don’t have to tell you that things will get to be quite interesting as that March 1 deadline approaches.

Feb 28—The NFL Combines gets underway in Indianapolis. This is when the first group of players arrives; the media portion begins on March 2. This will be a particularly important draft for Scot McCloughan. He doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the “underwear Olympics” part of it, the 40 times and bench presses. Of more interest to him is the chance to get to know some of the players to see if they will be good fits in what he is trying to build.

March 9—The league year starts at 4 p.m. That means the start of free agency. Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Chris Baker, Cousins if he has not been tagged or signed, and 11 other Redskins will become unrestricted free agents. Trades between teams also can happen starting on this day. Teams also must be under the salary cap by 4 p.m. The Redskins will not have any problem doing that as they currently sit about $62 million under the cap.

More Redskins: To have a chance at the Super Bowl the Redskins need a QB

April 17—Offseason workouts begin. This starts with some conditioning drills and builds up to OTAs, which will start in late May, and minicamp, which comes in mid-June.

April 27-29—The NFL draft is conducted in Philadelphia. The Redskins currently have nine picks. They have the 17th overall pick plus one each in the second and third rounds, two each in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds and no pick in the seventh. McCloughan has moved around on the draft board the last couple of years and there is no reason to believe that he won’t do the same this year.

Tandler on Twitter

This exchange came after Robert Alford’s pick six against Tom Brady in the second quarter.

I recalled the Redskins’ overtime loss to the Falcons in 2015.

In case you missed it

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

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Steven Sims is an under-the-radar name in the NFL. Here's why that'll change in 2020

Steven Sims is an under-the-radar name in the NFL. Here's why that'll change in 2020

Some people — like most Redskins fans, the most desperate fantasy football players and, well, his family — are well aware of who Steven Sims is. 

Once this season comes and goes, however, far more folks will know of, and appreciate, Washington's receiver. That's because he's going to build off a quietly impressive rookie campaign and have a really nice 2020 for the Burgundy and Gold.

And as that's happening — like, for example, when he has six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown in, say, Week 3 against the Browns, and you're at your buddy's house and he says something like, "Damn, who is this Sims dude?" with a surprised look on his face while you, on the other hand, aren't surprised at all because you read this story, so you just sit there smugly and eat his mediocre dip  — just remember who tipped you off.

OK, now that that's been established, let's explain why this much optimism exists about the 23-year-old's future. 

In 2019, it took Sims a while to crack the lineup. His first head coach, Jay Gruden, had a job to worry about, so even though Gruden made the call for Sims to make the roster coming out of the preseason, giving him real playing time was an entirely different conversation. In Gruden's five games in charge, Sims saw just 52 offensive snaps, and 31 of those came in Week 5 against New England (where he scored his first TD and hinted at his unique explosiveness).

After Gruden was fired, Bill Callahan assumed command and actually showed even less interest in trusting the Kansas product. In the team's next five contests, Sims trotted out with the offense for just 24 plays. Of course, it's not like the Redskins needed another threat during that stretch because they were just rolling their opponents (they scored 17, 0, 9, 9 and 17 points in this span, so the unit was obviously clicking).

Finally, thankfully, fortunately, from Week 12 on, Sims was given a chance to contribute outside of returning kicks and he largely delivered. In the Redskins' last six matchups, Sims caught 23 balls (he had 11 in Weeks 1-11) for 259 yards (compared to the 51 yards he had totaled in the two and a half months before) and four touchdowns.

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If you extrapolate those numbers out to a full schedule, that adds up to a 61-grab, 690-yard effort with a whole bunch of scores. Not bad for an undrafted guy from a basketball school, huh?

It goes beyond the fact that Sims simply produced, too. It was how he produced. Honestly, describing some of the patterns he ran as "lightning quick" would be an insult to the wideout, not the weather phenomenon:

Per Pro Football Focus, Sims was targeted on almost 25-percent of his routes last year, which was the seventh-best output at his position. For those who don't necessarily pay attention to PFF's metrics, that essentially says that Sims was getting open on a regular basis, and Dwayne Haskins rewarded him for that work by going in his direction a ton.

So, there is Sims' first go-round in the NFL summed up in a handful of paragraphs. His overall stats — 34 catches, 310 yards and four scores — don't suggest much, but if you evaluate only when he was truly relied upon, you'll see that's when he peaked and that's when he showed his rare quickness, shiftiness and craftiness.

Those things on their own are reason to expect more out of Sims in 2020. What's even more encouraging is that his skill set is now in the hands of new offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Turner has already stated that he'll use the best weapons he has on offense regardless of age and experience, so Sims should have plenty of opportunities to thrive beginning in Week 1. That'll be a huge difference from 2019, when he had to bide his time on the sidelines until late November.

Turner's also coming from an offense in Carolina that made a point to quickly get the ball to pass-catchers like Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel and then let them do damage in space. That should also benefit Sims.

To be fair, there are still facets of Sims' game that need to be improved on. He made some very difficult catches as a first-year pro, but as a whole, he needs to be more consistent with his hands. He's always going to be one of the smaller players on the field, meanwhile, so he'll have to continue to refine the ways in which he creatively finds space since he'll never really do so with his physicality.  

As long as Sims sharpens those aspects and adapts well to Turner's scheme, though, he's going to keep shining. He just is.

His rookie rise coincided with the part of the Redskins' season where nearly everyone had tuned out, so most people aren't fully aware of what he can do yet. But that will change, and soon. 

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Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is true in all walks of life, including the professional sports world. And while the NFL may be a “what have you done for me lately” business, it is imperative to kick off a coaching tenure on a positive note,  rather than playing from behind the entire way.

Ron Rivera is set to take over as the 30th head coach in franchise history when his squad presumably lines up against the Eagles on September 13th in Landover. With team workouts currently not an option, it is certainly too early to gauge how those two teams will match up in Week 1 - but if recent history is any indication, that debut could go either way.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR FULL REDSKINS COACHING DEBUTS GALLERY>>>

It could end up like Mike Shanahan’s primetime victory in his 2010 debut against the rival Cowboys, or like the return of Joe Gibbs back in 2004 that saw Washington outlast Tampa Bay, and even like Steve Spurrier’s high-powered win over the Cardinals in 2002 - all first impressions that the burgundy and gold promptly celebrated with a “Victory Monday” and left the fanbase hopeful for a return to glory.

But the glass could end up looking half empty as well, as it has so many times before. Jay Gruden and Jim Zorn certainly didn’t inspire confidence with their initial performances in the district. Neither did Marty Schottenheimer, who lost the opener of his only season with the Redskins. You can go all the way back to Norv Turner, who had the difficult task of following the first run of legendary Coach Gibbs with the Redskins, and he did so by falling to the Seahawks in 1994.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR FULL REDSKINS COACHING DEBUTS GALLERY>>>

What is also important to note is that the debut isn't the all-telling game for head coaches. Though it sets the tone, some have rebounded from poor starts, while others have struggled after solid beginnings. Spurrier's first win was followed by two disappointing years, while Joe Gibbs' 0-5 start in 1981 was soon forgotten when he held up the Lombardi Trophy three times.

In 2011, Rivera lost in his head coaching debut with the Panthers, but a lot has changed since then. He eventually figured things out in Carolina, amassing 76 wins over 9 successful seasons, including an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Rivera created a reputation that preceded his arrival in Ashburn, and since then it has been clear that it is a new era for the Redskins.

As for how that era begins? History tells us to buckle up.

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