The NFL season officially starts today. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency, new year kick off the season

At 3 p.m. today, Tuesday, March 12, the bells will ring, the horns will sound, heck even the fat lady will sing … well, maybe not … but when the clock strikes at that time, the National Football League 2013 season officially begins.

It will also signal the start for the signing period of free agent players. Team

s will change complexions, players will be renting U-Hauls and the scribes will all be telling us why these changes are either great or disastrous.

It’s certainly a fun time of year and a time when fans get an earful … so be ready.

To kick off the new year, here are some key dates to keep in mind as we move forward:

For Restricted Free Agents, from March 12 to April 19.

For Unrestricted Free Agents who have received the June 1 tender from their prior club, from March 12 to July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later).

For Franchise Players, from March 12 until the Tuesday following the tenth week of the regular season, Nov. 12. If a Franchise Player does not sign by Nov. 12, he must sit out the season. There are no Transition Player designations this year.

Here is a breakdown of the schedule for the new league year in simpler terms:

  • March 12, 3 p.m. CDT: New league year begins, free agency opens
  • April 19: Restricted free agents signing period ends
  • March 12 through June 1 [prior club tender], July 22: First training camp to sign UFAs
  • March 12 through November 12: Window to sign franchise players

Though it’s expected to be a snoozer for the Packers and their fans during free agency, other teams jump in with both feet and many of the changes that occur during this time have ripple effects across the league and affect the Packers just as much as the teams directly affected.

Either way, it’s always a wild ride, so strap it up, get ready for this afternoon and watch the players and teams rejoice – or cry foul, depending on which side of the fence they sit. Will teams improve or degrade? You be the judge.

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You can stay up to date with all of the signings with Fansided’s official free agency tracker HERE.

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Tags: Green Bay Packers NFL NFL Free Agency

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