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Key NFL Offseason Dates Coming Up For Cowboys

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The 2015 NFL season is finally in the books. Let 2016 begin! Here are some key dates and NFL events that will be of interest to Dallas fans.

The hunt for another ring has officially begun.
The hunt for another ring has officially begun.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most amazing things about the NFL is its incredible marketing. The league has managed to generate interest year round. Even though the culmination of the past season has just happened, there are already a number of dates in the next month or so that will draw our attention. And with everything now reset, it is time to start getting excited about what this year might bring.

At CBS Sports, former agent Joel Corry has gone through the calendar between now and the NFL's Annual Meeting from March 20-23.  A lot of his information deals with specific contract triggers for various teams, so here is a summary of the dates and events that will be of most interest to Dallas Cowboys fans.

Feb. 8

The waiver system begins for 2016. Players with fewer than four years of service for benefit purposes are subject to waivers and their contracts can be claimed by other teams. Players with four or more years of service time become free agents when released.

Waivers have already begun. The first three names to surface were Riley Cooper of the Eagles and William Moore and Justin Durant of the Falcons. Durant, of course, played with the Cowboys, and may get a little interest from them as a depth linebacker. Since he was released, he would not be a factor in determining compensatory picks next year. The staff is familiar with him and he may be a low-cost option with no real risk.

Feb. 16
22 days before the start of the 2016 league year

This is the first day of a two-week period where teams can designate franchise or transition players

Dallas is not expected to have any players to tag this year, but the interest here is how it affects other teams' decisions about their players. One likely player to be tagged is Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, unless he and the Broncos can come to an agreement on an extension. Either way, he is going to cost them a lot, and that may lead to them deciding to waive former Cowboys star DeMarcus WareThere is already a lot of buzz about Ware returning to Dallas to finish out his career.  With the possibility of Peyton Manning retiring, the Broncos also have to figure out how to handle a new deal for Brock Osweiler. The Ware-to-Dallas idea is looking like more than just a pipe dream.

Feb. 23-29

The NFL Scouting Combine takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. Meetings between agents of impending free agents and teams routinely occur at the Combine, although these types of discussions are prohibited by NFL rules. Teams are rarely penalized for tampering with players from other teams when those players are scheduled to become free agents.

This, of course, is the next big event for NFL fans. The Underwear Olympics are always a source of fascination as we look for every available big of data about possible draft picks, but as Corry notes, the widespread but ignored tampering is a major semi-illegal event for all teams. Coverage will be wall to wall here, so stay tuned.

March 1

The period for designating franchise or transition players ends at 4 p.m. ET.

March 3

Patriots: Deflategate grabs the spotlight once again as the NFL's appeal of Brady's vacated four-game suspension is scheduled to be heard in the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York.

This is thrown in because, NFL shooting itself in the foot.

March 9
First day of the 2016 league year

The top 51 begins. Only the top 51 salaries (i.e., cap numbers), including unsigned franchise, transition, restricted free agent and exclusive rights tenders, on a team count against the salary cap during the offseason. All teams must be under the salary cap prior to 4 p.m. ET.

The 2016 league year and free agency begin at 4 p.m. ET.

The trading period begins at 4 p.m. ET.

The salary for the 2016 option year with 2012 first-round picks, which was guaranteed for injury upon exercise, becomes fully guaranteed.

A lot of stuff happens when the league year starts. Mostly it is administrative in nature. The option year does not factor for the Cowboys since they elected not to use it for Morris Claiborne.

March 13
Fifth day of 2016 league year

Cowboys: Wide receiver Dez Bryant and offensive tackle Tyron Smith have money fully guaranteed. It's Bryant's $13 million 2017 base salary and Smith's $10 million 2016 base salary. These salaries were guaranteed for injury at signing.

The one financial note for Dallas from the article. No question about both those triggers taking place as scheduled.

Those are the key events for the next month plus. We will be working hard to keep you informed of all developments that impact the Star.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB