Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The best thing about the NFL offseason is that it offers a promise for nearly every team. Unless you’re a Lions fan. No matter how good things look in the offseason. No matter how good they ended 2022. You know. They’ll find a way to miss the playoffs. Sorry Craig, just playing with you. Even the Detroit Lions have a chance. Probably better than most.

The Arizona Cardinals took a step last week by hiring new head coach Jonathan Gannon after the last guy took off to Thailand with an Instagram model. Gannon has a lot of assistant coach experience, serving as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, and Philadelphia Eagles.

So what now? We fill our days with the Insta pics from Gracie Hunt? Or we could check out the XFL?

The NFL offseason is a marathon, not a sprint. There are multiple key stages that have teams dealing with players on their own roster, other rosters, and of course rookies.

With so much going on, it can be a lot to keep track of. There are a number of important deadlines, windows, and events over the next few months. Here are the dates to know…

  • Feb. 21-March 7:

    Franchise/transition tag window

    Beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 21, teams can begin applying the franchise and transition tag to pending free agents. They can continue to do so up until the week before free agency.

    Once a player is tagged, the team and player can continue negotiating on a long-term deal until July. Still, teams will often wait until the late end of this window to officially apply the tags.

  • Feb. 28-March 6:

    NFL Combine

    The annual scouting combine will once again take place in Indianapolis this year, running from February 28 to March 6. This will play a big role in determining the draft board, and we’ll also get updates on which teams are meeting with which prospects. We’ll have a more comprehensive Combine preview leading up to the event.

  • March 7-31:

    Pro Days begin

    This year’s Pro Day schedule is set to begin on March 7, with Indiana being the lone school taking part that day. The bulk of the Pro Days run through March 31, but some schools have special sessions as late as April 12.

  • March 13-15:

    Legal tampering period

    NFL free agency truly begins on Monday, March 13 at noon ET. That’s when the legal tampering period window opens, and teams can begin negotiating with free agents from the other 31 NFL teams. This is usually when most of the big deals get done.

  • March 15:

    New league year officially begins

    The NFL new league year begins the following Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. That’s when any deals agreed to during the tampering period can be made official. The same goes for trades agreed to prior to the start of free agency.

  • March 26-29:

    Owners’ Meetings

    The NFL’s annual league meetings, more commonly known as the Owners’ Meetings, will be held in Phoenix this year in late March. This is when many big-picture league decisions are made. The most common talking point coming out of these meetings is usually rule changes.

  • April 27-29:

    2023 NFL Draft

    The NFL’s Annual Player Selection Meeting, more commonly known as the NFL Draft, will take place in Kansas City this year. The first round will be held on Thursday night the 27th, with the second and third rounds taking place on Friday then the rest of the draft on Saturday.

  • May 1:

    Fifth-year option deadline

    Teams who selected players in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft have until May 1 to decide if they want to pick up the fifth-year option on those players’ contracts. That option applies to the 2024 season. The Patriots traded out of the first round that year (Kyle Dugger was their first pick in the second round), so pending a trade (Jerry Jeudy?) they’ll be skipping this step this year.

  • May 1:

    Free agent signings no longer count against comp pick formula

    The NFL compensation pick formula is based on teams gaining or losing players in free agency. However, it only factors in the first month and a half of free agency. Following the draft, any players signed as free agents don’t count against the signing team’s comp pick formula. This deadline sometimes kicks off a second wave of free agent signings.

  • May 5-8 or 12-15:

    Rookie Minicamp

    Teams have two windows during which they can hold rookie minicamp. These practices are usually closed to the media.

  • Mid-May:

    NFL schedule release

    Typically, the NFL announces the schedule for the upcoming season a week or two after the draft. An exact date for the schedule release date usually comes out in late April.

  • Late May:

    OTAs and minicamps begin

    Teams finally return to the field in full for OTAs in late May. That’s followed by mandatory minicamps in June. A handful of these practices will be open to the media.

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