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BTB offseason primer

I thought I’d talk a little about the offseason around here. Some of you guys have been through it before, some have actually been through a couple of offseasons with BTB. But for anybody newer to the blog, I’ll be here all offseason, usually posting something on a daily basis and of course during the peak times (free agency, draft, etc.), when the blog will be hopping with activity. Just like no NFL team has a true offseason, neither does BTB. We just keep plugging away. So stick around and keep reading, and join in the comments if you get the notion.

For those of you who are active participants on the blog, meaning diaries and comments, here’s a few things to remember.

Everybody likes to crib scouting reports from other sites and cite mock drafts etc. during the next few months. That’s great, if you want to drop a mini-scouting report about a player on the blog, cool. Just do one thing, add a link back to the site so we can go read more if we want. This accomplishes two things, one; we can evaluate for ourselves how much we want to believe that scouting report. Just because someone writes something doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because the report supports the player your backing doesn’t make it any more credible. Let us decide for ourselves.

But the main reason is I support the right for people to have their work recognized as their work, and I think they should get some traffic since their work was used. I allow anybody to re-post my articles in full, I’ve made that clear. In return, I ask that I get a link back and most people do that. But that doesn’t mean every writer agrees to this arrangement, and that’s their right, it is their work. So be respectful, don’t post long articles in-full without permission. You can always post excerpts without a problem and if it’s a short article, that’s usually OK. Just always include a link, it’s not hard and it only takes a second or two longer. If you don’t know how, ask and we’ll tell you. I will delete posts that violate this rule.

Another thing about free agency and the draft. Everybody has their opinion about players. Try to remain calm if someone writes something negative about a player you like and are pushing for the Cowboys to acquire. I’ve said this before and I really believe it – this isn’t a battle about your honor, it’s not a fight to the death. It’s just an opinion on a football player. If you want to debate the merits of that player, fine. But don’t go off half-cocked and insult or belittle the guy who posted it. Just tell us your side of the story. We’re smart enough to know if that opinion is stupid or moronic or idiotic or whatever without you telling us. I love debating football and discussing every nuance of the Cowboys, but I hate when it turns into a food fight between a couple of posters. Most of us aren’t interested in that either. In fact, the only people usually interested are the couple of guys who are fighting. A shorter way of saying this is just chill.

Besides, if any of us were always as right as we make it sound, we’d have a job in the NFL!

OK, enough of me and my soapbox.

Here’s some stuff for the offseason that you should know. Plus, this is a great opportunity for you guys to add stuff to this thread that will benefit the rest of us this offseason.

Here are the current Cowboys free agents. I cribbed this list from a Todd Archer article.

Unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) - Players can negotiate with any other team without limitation.
LT Flozell Adams
S Ken Hamlin
RB Julius Jones
S Keith Davis
CB Nate Jones
CB Jacques Reeves

Restricted free agents  (RFA’s)- Players can negotiate with another team. Their current team has seven days to match any offer. If the current team refuses to match an offer, draft picks will be given as compensation.

RB Marion Barber
DE Chris Canty
LS L.P. Ladouceur  
RB Tyson Thompson

Exclusive rights free agents (ERFA’s)  - Players must accept what their current club offers or not play in the NFL at all.

OL Joe Berger
DE Stephen Bowen
OL Cory Procter
CB Evan Oglesby
TE Tony Curtis

Archer also says this:

By March, when free agency begins, the Cowboys are scheduled to be around $10 million under the salary cap. More room could be created through restructuring some contracts or releasing some players.

I’m no capologists so I don’t even pretend that I can figure out how all that works. But for now, unless someone has some good contradicting information, I’m going with the figure of $10 million under the cap for free agency.

Here are the levels of tender for RFA’s.

First and third: $2.562 million
First: $2.017 million
Second: $1.417 million
Low: $927,000

KFFL has a list of free agents around the NFL. I’m sure you guys know of other sites that have lists so feel free to post the links in the comments. KFFL is a good source of offseason transaction news, I’ll be referencing it a lot.

Football’s Future keeps a list of high-profile free agents at each position with scouting blurbs. Let us know of others.

For the draft, I’ve used NFL Draft Countdown for years. It’s a great site with loads of information.

This year, SB Nation has added a draft blog, Mocking the Draft to the mix and is another source for draft info. We’ll also hold a mock draft there sometime closer to the actual draft.

I found a schedule for the offseason that was posted on a message board, here, and it looked pretty complete. I can’t vouch for the accuracy but it looks correct at first glance. I cut it down to the most important dates. Let me know if it has mistakes.

February 7 - Commencement of 15-day designation period for Franchise and Transition Players
February 11 - Waiver process begins
February 20-26 - NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana
February 21 - Deadline for teams to designate Franchise and Transition Players
February 28 - Deadline for submission of Qualifying Offers by teams to their Restricted Free Agents whose contracts have expired and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refulsal/Compensation
February 28 - Deadline for teams to submit offer of minimum salary to retain exclusive negotiating righs to their players with fewer than three seasons of free agency credit whose contracts have expired
February 29 - Start of Free Agency and Trading period
March 17 - Begin Offseason Workout Program
April 18 - Deadline for signing of Offer Sheets by Restricted Free Agents
April 25 - Deadline for teams to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents
April 25 - Deadline for old team to exercise Right of First Refusal to Restricted Free Agents
April 26-27 - NFL Draft in New York City
June 1 - Deadline for old team to send tender offer to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents or to extend Qualifying offer, whichever is greater, in order to retain rights
June 1 - Deadline for old team to send tender offer to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents to retain rights if player is not signed by another team by July 22

Also, BTB-regular DeRat tells us in this diary that our draft picks are set.

Round 1
Pick 22
Pick 28

Round 2
Pick 30 (#61 overall)

Assuming their are no compensatory picks awarded within the first 3 rounds then:

Round 3
Pick 29 (#92 overall)

So that’s it, if you have other useful offseason information or other sites for us to check out, post it in the comments.