But in an effort to keep the game of professional football in the limelight – even when it’s not – the National Football League has a full offseason schedule that not only includes the upcoming Scouting Combine, Free Agency and the NFL Draft, but it also includes various deadlines – the first of which hits the books this coming Tuesday.
On Tuesday, all NFL teams have the first opportunity to designate Franchise or Transition Players … Don’t expect any news out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, on this day.
But in addition to mini camps and OTAs that each team goes through between now and training camp, there are plenty of other dates and deadlines to which teams will adhere …
According to NFL Communications, here is a complete list of key NFL dates for the 2016 offseason:
- Feb. 16: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
- Feb. 23-29: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.
- March 1: Deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players at 4 p.m. ET.
- March 7-9: Clubs are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2015 Player Contracts at 4 p.m., ET, on March 9. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4 p.m., ET, on March 9.
- March 9: 2016 NFL League Year begins. Free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET.
- Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must exercise options for 2016 on all players who have option clauses in their 2015 contracts.
- Prior to 4 p.m. ET, clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
- March 20-23: Annual League Meeting, Boca Raton, Florida.
- April 4: Clubs that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2015 regular season may begin offseason workout programs.
- April 18: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
- April 22: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign Offer Sheets.
- April 28-30: 2016 NFL Draft, Chicago, Illinois.
- After the final selection in the Draft has been made, clubs may begin signing Undrafted Free Agents who were eligible for the 2016 Draft.
- May 6-9 or May 13-16: Teams may elect to hold their one three-day post-draft rookie minicamp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday of the first or second weekend after the NFL draft.
- May 20-23: NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Invited Rookies (typically, first and/or second-round selections) must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. Such players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days, and minicamps during this period.
- May 23-25: NFL Spring League Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina.
- June 1: Deadline for prior club to send “June 1 Tender” to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a qualifying offer for a Right of First Refusal Only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA’s “June 15 Tender” provision.
- For any player removed from the club’s roster or whose contract is assigned via waivers or trade on or after June 2, any unamortized signing bonus amounts for future years will be included fully in Team Salary at the start of the 2017 League Year.
- June 19-25: Rookie Symposium, Aurora, Ohio.
- July 15: At 4 p.m. ET, deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2016 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.
- Mid-July: Training camps open. Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players. Veteran players (defined as a player with at least one pension-credited season) other than quarterbacks or injured players may report to a club’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
And that’s about it … we are all eyeing that mid-July when training camps open and the season draws near in September.
Stay tuned …