The NFL offseason is long but filled with key moments to which fans should pay attention. Here’s a breakdown of the offseason calendar.
Unless you’re going to be watching former Kansas City Chiefs play in the Alliance of American Football, you won’t be able to see any Chiefs’ football until August—or NFL football in general, really. The 2018-2019 NFL season has ended with yet another New England Patriots Super Bowl victory, and now it’s time for the dreaded all-too-long offseason.
Though it won’t be like the regular and postseason, the NFL offseason will be full of excitement. Free agency and the draft will be among the most notable events. Even though there are no NFL games to watch, there are some important events to pay attention and tune in to. Here are some of the key dates to know for this year’s NFL offseason:
February 19th: Franchise/Transition Tag
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Starting February 19th, teams will now have the option to place either the franchise or transition tag on one of their veteran free agents. Teams have two options when exercising the franchise tag: either the exclusive or the non-exclusive tag.
The exclusive franchise tag is a one-year offer that comes with a salary no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year or a 120% increase in the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. With this offer, the player’s team exclusively has the negotiation rights with the player.
The non-exclusive franchise tag is the most common and is a one-year offer that comes with a salary no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year or a 120% increase in the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. With this offer, the player can negotiate with other teams and the player’s team has the right to match any offer by another team or receive two first-round picks as compensation if they do not wish to match.
The transition tag is a one-year offer that comes with a salary that is the average of the top ten salaries at the player’s position for the current year. With this offer, the player’s team has the right to match any offer by another team, but receives no compensation if they do not wish to match.
February 26th – March 4th: NFL Scouting Combine
February 26th is the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine, where over 300 prospects participate in several physical and mental tests in front of NFL coaches, general managers, and scouts to attempt to improve their draft stock. This year, the combine will run until March 4th.
March 5th: Deadline for designating Franchise/Transition Tag
Teams must designate their Franchise or Transition player by 4:00 p.m. EST on March 5th or they will lose the option to do so.
March 11th – 13th: The beginning of Free Agency
Starting on March 11th, teams will be permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents when their 2018 contract expires.
March 13th: New league year/Free agency begins
On March 13th, at 4:00 P.M. EST, the 2019 league year and free agency period will begin. At this deadline, teams will now be able to sign free agents. All 2018 player contracts will expire at this deadline. Prior to this deadline, teams must exercise options on all players who have option clauses in their 2018 contracts. They also must submit qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts if they wish to retain the right of compensation.
March 13th: Top 51 Rule
All NFL teams must be under the 2019 Salary Cap prior to 4:00 P.M. EST on March 13th.
April 19th: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets
Restricted Free Agents must sign their offer sheet by April 19th. If an RFA accepts an offer sheet, then his team will have the right to match any offer he is offered from an opposing team. If the team does not wish to match the offer, they will have the right to compensation in the form of draft picks from the player’s new team.
April 25th – 27th: 2019 NFL Draft
The 2019 NFL Draft will begin on 8:00 P.M. EST on Thursday, April 25th. Day 1 will consist of the draft’s first round, Day 2 will consist of the draft’s second and third rounds, and Day 3 will finish the draft with the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds.
May 7th: May 7 Tender
May 7th is the deadline for teams to send contracts to its unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a contract with the team by July 22nd or the first scheduled day of training camp, he may negotiate or sign the contract from that date until the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season at 4:00 P.M. EST.
Late May – June: Teams will hold Organized Team Activities
Teams will hold their OTAs sometime in late May or June.
Mid-July: NFL Training Camp will begin
Teams will hold their training camps when they are permitted to in mid-July.
July 15th: Franchise Tender Multiyear Contract Deadline
July 15th at 4:00 P.M. EST is the last day that a team can sign a Franchise Player to a multiyear contract. After this date, the player may only sign a one-year contract.
August 1st: Hall of Fame Game
Football is back! The 2019 NFL Hall of Fame game will be played in Canton, Ohio and will be the first action of the 2019 NFL season. Because the Chiefs had three players named to the Hall of Fame this year, there is a chance that this year’s Hall of Fame game will feature them. The rest of the NFL’s preseason will begin sometime following the Hall of Fame game. The NFL will release the official dates in April.
September 5th: Regular Season Begins
The 2019-2020 NFL regular season will begin on Thursday, September 5th. Traditionally, this game features the Super Bowl winning team as the home team. Since the Chiefs will be playing the Patriots in Foxborough for the third straight year, there’s a decent chance that the NFL will want to feature a Patrick Mahomes vs. Tom Brady rematch.