With the new league year starting March 9, the Redskins will turn their attention to the NFL free agency pool after their work at the Combine is done.*
It may be called the offseason, but the Washington Redskins coaches, front office and player personnel department are busier than ever trying to build their roster for the 2016 season.
The group this week is neck deep in player interviews, workouts and medical evaluations at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. But, come early next week, they'll shift their focus from the upcoming NFL Draft to the start of free agency, which begins at 4 p.m. ET March 9.
"It's interesting the way the calendar flows," Redskins team President Bruce Allen said Thursday. "After we leave the Combine, we actually go right into free agency mode. We start some free agent meetings, and then we're going to go into a couple weeks of free agency and see if there's anyone that would fit what we're looking for for this season."
In-house, the Redskins have 21 players set to become unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents or exclusive rights free agents come March 9.
Sixteen of those players will be of the unrestricted free agent variety, meaning they will be free to sign with any other team with no restrictions. The Redskins may re-sign their own UFA players at any point before that March 9 date, however.
Allen said the team has already had meetings about which impending free agents it would like to have back, as well as those the team is going to let test free agency.
One of those free-agents-to-be, quarterback Kirk Cousins, is considered to be the top priority for the Redskins, who have until March 1 to decide whether they will utilize the franchise tag on Cousins – essentially giving him a one-year, fully-guaranteed deal – or continue discussions with his representatives about a multi-year deal that both sides agree would be the best option moving forward.
"It's ongoing, and Kirk's been very clear that he wants to be our quarterback, and we've been clear that we want him as our quarterback," Allen said of the status of Cousins' contract negotiations. "It'll work out."
When it comes to some of the Redskins' other impending free agents – guys like running back Alfred Morris, quarterback Colt McCoy, fullback Darrel Young, nose tackle Terrance Knighton and linebackers Junior Galette and Mason Foster – Allen said the team would "absolutely" be considering the possibility of bringing them back in 2016.
He cautioned that the first few days of free agency – typically covered ad nauseam by media outlets across the country – won't be the only time throughout the year that the Redskins take a strong look at which players are available, however.
"I think our personnel department did a great job of signing free agents during the season. I think that's where we really helped our football team to help us win the division," Allen said. "The coaches did a great job of guys we signed on a Tuesday in Week 7 and they're playing in the game on that Sunday. But I think we picked the right guys."
While the draft will continue to be a focal point the next few weeks – even with the onset of free agency – Allen said the staff will switch its primary focus back to the available college players around the first week of April, giving the team about a month to continue to establish its big board before the draft, which is being held April 28-30 in Chicago.