Key offseason dates for the Redskins

One of our Patriots bloggers, Field Yates, posted a list of key dates for the offseason. Thought it was a good idea and figured it was worth repeating (stealing) here. So here you go:

Feb. 17: Teams can start using the franchise or transition tag on players. If the Redskins wanted to use this on linebacker Brian Orakpo, it would be costly. Last year’s tag number at this position was approximately $10 million.

Feb. 19-25: The NFL will hold the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Redskins coach Jay Gruden and most members of his staff did not attend the Senior Bowl, but he will be here.

March 3: Deadline for applying the franchise tag.

March 8-11: It used to be that teams could not legally contact players until free agency began. But that was a sham so now they have a legal window to talk to players. The Redskins talked to numerous players during this period last year, but with no room against the cap they didn’t sign anyone. It was akin to colleges recruiting players before offering a scholarship. But deals can’t be struck during this time. It gives teams and agents a good idea on what to expect when free agency begins.

March 11: Free agency begins at 4 p.m. Teams must be in compliance with the salary cap by 4 p.m. (this is also when the rule of 51 begins and only the top 51 contracts count toward the cap). This shouldn’t be an issue at all with Washington. The Redskins will have approximately $30 million in cap space, though they must decide what to do with their own free agents first. They have no secondary starters under contract and will need to re-sign two linebackers or find their replacements – plus finding a new one to take over for the retired London Fletcher. So the cap space is good, but with so many needs and spots to fill they can’t go crazy, though general manager Bruce Allen said they will be active.

March 11: Teams must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents before 4 p.m. But the Redskins do not have any.

March 23-26: NFL owners meeting in Orlando, Fla.

April 7: Because the Redskins have a new coach, they can begin their offseason workout program. Teams without a new coach must wait two more weeks.

May 2: The deadline for restricted free agents to sign an offer sheet.

May 8-10: The draft. This is the first time any part of the draft will be held in May since 1985 when it ended on the first day of the month. Last year the third round took place on April 27. It ends one day before Mother's Day, so a lot of moms could have a very happy weekend based on how the draft turns out.

May 19-21: NFL spring meeting in Atlanta.