The NFL “Offseason” is here. I put offseason in quotes because, more than most other sports, media coverage of the NFL continues year-round, with important periods and events, such as free agency, the NFL Scouting Combine, and the NFL Draft, all fast approaching.
Below is a complete and detailed breakdown of all the important calendared dates to know and events to keep tabs on up until the 2017 season kicks off on Thursday, September 7.
February 6: Waiver system begins for 2017 NFL season. Teams can extend current contracts and exercise outstanding options.
February 11: NFL Regional Combine: Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Seattle, WA. The NFL launched the Regional and Super Regional Combines in 2012 to serve as a supplement to the League’s National Scouting Combine. These events are designed to provide an opportunity for lower-profile participants to display their pro potential.
February 14 (12PM ET): NFL teams may begin signing Canadian Football League players whose 2016 contracts are expired.
February 15: NFL teams may begin designating Franchise or Transition players.
February 18: NFL Regional Combine: Methodist Training Center, Houston, TX.
February 25: NFL Regional Combine, Inova Sports Performance Center, Washington, D.C.
February 26: Punter/Kicker NFL Regional Combine, Inova Sports Performance Center, Washington, D.C.
February 28 - March 6: NFL Scouting Combine
February 28: NFL Scouting Combine Day One arrivals (Place Kicking, Special Teams, O-Line, Running Backs) at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN, for registration, orientation, and interviews.
March 1: NFL Scouting Combine Day Two arrivals (Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends) for registration, orientation, and interviews.
March 1 (4:00 PM ET): Deadline for teams to designate Franchise or Transition players.
March 2: NFL Scouting Combine Day Three arrivals (defensive line and linebackers) for registration, orientation, and interviews.
March 3: Day One On-Field Workouts (PK, ST, RB).
March 3: NFL Scouting Combine Day Four arrivals (defensive backs) for registration, orientation, and interviews.
March 4: Day Two On-Field Workouts (QB, WR, TE).
March 4: NFL Regional Combine: Minnesota Vikings Practice Facility, Eden Prairie, MN.
March 5: Day Three On-Field Workouts (DL, LB).
March 6: Day Four On-Field Workouts (DBs).
March 7 - March 9: “Legal Tampering Period” - NFL teams may begin contract negotiations with the agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents.
March 9 (Before 4:00PM ET):
- Deadline for NFL teams to exercise options for 2017 on any player with option clauses in their 2016 contracts.
- NFL teams must submit qualifying offers to players with expiring contracts who will become Restricted Free Agents.
- NFL teams must submit a Minimum Salary Tender to players who will become Exclusive-Rights Free Agents (expiring contracts and fewer than 3 accrued seasons).
March 9 (After 4:00PM ET):
- 2017 NFL league year begins, all 2016 contracts expire, free agency and trading opens.
- All teams must be and stay under the ‘Top-51’ salary cap for 2017.
March 11: NFL Regional Combine: New Orleans Saints Training Facility, Metairie, LA.
March 26-29: Annual League Meeting, Phoenix, AZ.
April 17: NFL teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
Approximately 3rd Week of April: Some time around the third week of April, the NFL will announce the 2017 schedule.
April 21: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
April 27-29: 2017 NFL Draft, Philadelphia, PA
May 2: Deadline for Titans to pick up Taylor Lewan’s fifth-year option.
May 5-8: Rookie Minicamp weekend #1 - NFL teams may conduct a three-day post-Draft rookie minicamp (either Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday) for rookies and first-year players.
May 9: Deadline for teams to send "May 9 Tender" to its still-unsigned Unrestricted Free Agents. If the player has not signed a Player Contract with a club by July 22 or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, he may negotiate or sign a Player Contract until the Tuesday following Week 10 at 4:00PM EST, only with his Prior Club.
May 12-15: Rookie Minicamp weekend #2.
May 15: Rookie Football Development Programs begin.
May 18-21: NFLPA Rookie Premiere - invited rookies must be allowed to attend.
May 22-23: Spring League Meeting, Chicago, IL.
End of May: Voluntary Organized Team Activities (each team gets two three-day periods in May).
June 1: Deadline for NFL teams to send “June 1 Tender” to Restricted Free Agents who received qualifying offers in order to subject that player to “June 15 Tender” provision.
June 2: Any player released, waived, or traded on or after this date will have any remaining signing bonus salary cap charges assigned to the team’s 2018 salary cap.
Early- to mid-June: Third scheduled OTA period.
June 15: NFL teams may withdraw qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents and replace with “June 15 Tender”, equal to one year at 110% of previous year’s salary. Players then have exclusive negotiating rights with that team.
Late June: NFL teams host Rookie Transition Programs. Rookie and Veteran Mini-camps will be held.
July 15 (4:00 PM ET): Deadline for Franchise-tagged players to sign multi-year extensions. Following this deadline, a player can only sign the one-year Franchise tender.
Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the clubas earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
Teams may start training camp no earlier than 15 days before the team's first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
July 22:* Signing Period ends for unrestricted Free Agents to whom a "May 9 Tender" was made. After this date and until 4:00PM EST on the Tuesday following Week 10, the player’s prior team has exclusive negotiating rights.
*or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later.
July 22: Signing Period ends for Transition Players who have not signed their tenders. After this date and until 4:00PM EST on the Tuesday following Week 10, the player’s prior team has exclusive negotiating rights.
August 3: Preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio.
August 5: Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony, Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, Canton, Ohio.
September 7: 2017 NFL season begins with Thursday Night Football Opening Kickoff.
Some dates, like OTA and training camp schedules, have yet to be announced. When that information becomes available, you guys will be the first to know.
Important Dates to Remember for the Titans
Of that crazy-long list of above dates, the key Titans-related events to remember include:
- February 15: Teams can start designating players with Franchise and Transition tag.
This (and the following week or so) is an important date to keep in mind as it will inform us of which players could actually hit the open market.
- March 3 - 6: NFL Scouting Combine.
Always fun to watch and discuss various results for all our favorite prospects, even if the Combine is ultimately more important to the media and fans than it is to actual NFL Executives.
- March 9, 4:00PM EST: New league year begins.
This will be the most fun time period of the offseason outside of draft weekend. Free agency, trades, frenzied media reports and heartbreaking rumors... circle ‘March 9th’ on your calendars. I can’t wait for this day.
- March 12: NCAA Basketball “Selection Sunday”
This date has nothing to do with the Titans, or even football, but if you don’t think March Madness is an exciting distraction from the mundane NFL offseason, then I can’t help you...
- April 27-29: NFL Draft
A top-five selection, two first round picks, two third round picks... Will Jon Robinson be wheeling and dealing? Will the Titans actually make any of the selections they are currently slated to make? Obviously, this is the highlight of the offseason.
- May 2: Deadline to pick up 2017 first-round picks’ 5th-year option.
This applies to Taylor Lewan. I fully expect the Titans to pick up Lewan’s fifth-year option, assuming a long-term contract extension has not already been signed by then.
- Late May / Early June: Voluntary OTAs
These official dates won’t be announced until April or May, but the Titans will likely start OTAs in late May that will extend into early June.
This is especially important when considering Marcus Mariota’s recovery timeline. The original estimate of 4-5 months would put Marcus at full health on April 28th at the earliest and May 28th at the latest, given that Mariota had his surgery on Wednesday, December 28.
A little more recently, Mike Mularkey appeared on 102.5 The Game in Nashville. It was Wednesday, January 18, that Mularkey had this to say:
[Mariota]’s on track. He’s doing great. He should be back when we get this thing rolling. I can’t tell you exact times of when he’s going to practice, but he should be ready for the season, which is what we want him for. But he’s doing good. He’s going to be a very good patient, if I have anything to do with it.”
Hopefully, Mariota will be on the field with his teammates when OTAs start.
Stay tuned throughout the offseason as more scheduling information becomes available.