The NFL offseason is long, and longer still if your team doesn’t make the playoffs.
Here are the key dates and full schedule of events to put on your calendar and look forward to as we begin the dreaded long wait to see the Titans play football again.
The NFL’s complete schedule of dates is available here, but my Titans-centric list is detailed below.
- December 31, 2018 - Earliest date that teams can sign 2016 draft picks to a contract extension. Fifth-year option period for 2016 first-round picks begins.
This date has (obviously) passed already, meaning the following Titans are officially eligible to be signed to contract extensions:
- Jack Conklin
- Austin Johnson
- Derrick Henry
- Kevin Byard
- Tajae Sharpe
- LeShaun Sims
All of these players are under contract through 2019, but will become unrestricted free agents after next season. I’d expect the Titans to lock up Kevin Byard to a long-term deal sooner than later, and it will be interesting to see if the team lets Derrick Henry play out the final year of his contract without extending him.
The Titans will also have to decide if they want to pick up Jack Conklin’s fifth-year option, which (for an offensive lineman drafted in the top ten) is projected to be approximately $13M for 2019.
- January 14, 2019 - Deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.
By January 14th, we will know the full list of players set to enter the 2019 NFL Draft, which of course will be taking place in Nashville.
- January 19, 2019 - East-West Shrine Game // NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
These college all star scouting events mark the unofficial kick-off of #DraftSzn.
- January 26, 2019 - Senior Bowl
The Senior Bowl is the most heralded of the college all star bowls.
- January 27, 2019 - NFL Pro Bowl
The 2019 Pro Bowl will feature at least two Titans, after three were selected to the NFL’s own All Star event, including Taylor Lewan and Brett Kern. Jurrell Casey was selected to the team, but I don’t expect him to be ready to play in time with his recent MCL strain.
There’s a chance one of the team’s alternates gets selected, a list that includes Kevin Byard, Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry, and Wesley Woodyard. The AFC quarterbacks are Philip Rivers, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady. If one of them makes it to the Super Bowl, well, we probably still won’t see Marcus Mariota, as the quarterback alternates include DeShaun Watson and Andrew Luck (among others).
If Baltimore or the Los Angeles Chargers make it to the Super Bowl, Kevin Byard will probably be promoted to the Pro Bowl roster. Derrick Henry may take Philip Lindsay’s place in the Pro Bowl, or James Conner’s if the Steelers’ back is not healthy enough to play, and his odds increase further if the Chargers make it to the Super Bowl. Finally, Wesley Woodyard could get in if C.J. Mosley of the Ravens or Benardrick McKinney end up sitting out the game for whatever reason.
- February 3, 2019 - Super Bowl
- February 4, 2019 - 2019 Waivers Begin
- February 19, 2019 - First day for teams to designate Franchise or Transition Tag
I doubt the Titans will be using either tag this offseason.
- February 26 - March 4, 2019 - 2019 NFL Scouting Combine
We will have plenty of coverage of the combine here on MCM at the end of February.
- March 5, 2019 - Franchise/Transition Tag Deadline
- March 11, 2019 - “Legal Tampering” period begins
I’ve always been opposed to the term “legal tampering” because it is an oxymoron (tampering is by definition not legal), but this is the period in which teams can start negotiating contract terms with players set to become unrestricted free agents.
- March 13, 2019, 4PM ET - New league year begins. Free agency opens.
4PM ET on March 13, 2019, is the single most significant date of the offseason. In addition to free agency officially opening at the start of the new league year, this is also the deadline for teams to tender any Restricted Free Agents. If players have a 2019 team option in their contract, it must be exercised by this date (note that this is different from exercising a player’s 5th-year option), meaning that the Titans will owe Mariota the entirety of his $20.9M contract if he is still on the roster at 4pm ET on this date (which of course he will be).
This is also when trading opens for the 2019 season, as well as the moment when the “Top 51” salary cap rule goes into effect (meaning the salary totals for every team’s top-51 contracts must be under the 2019 salary cap).
- March 24-27, 2019 - Annual League Meeting
- April 1, 2019 - Teams with a new head coach may begin offseason programs.
This will not apply to the Titans, but there are 8 teams currently with head coaching vacancies that will be able to start their offseason programs on April 1.
- April 15, 2019 - Teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason programs.
This is likely when the Titans will reconvene at the facilities for the first time since clearing out their lockers at the conclusion of the 2018 season.
The 9-week offseason program will begin on this date with Phase One, which is a two-week period in which activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only, as stated in the CBA.
- April 19, 2019 - Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets
- April 25-27, 2019 - The NFL Draft takes place in Nashville, Tennessee
If March 13 is the most significant date of the offseason, April 25-27 will be the most fun. The city of Nashville and the Tennessee Titans will be hosting the draft, and I will be making my first-ever trip to Nashville to attend the festivities.
This will be an awesome weekend for the city.
- April 29, 2019 - Phase Two of offseason programs begins
Phase Two of the offseason program consists of three weeks of on-field individual drills and team practice, but must be conducted on a “separates” basis (meaning no offense vs. defense) with no live contact permitted.
- May 3, 2019 - Deadline for teams to designate their 5th-year option on 2016 first-round picks.
This is the deadline by which the Titans must decide to pick up Jack Conklin’s fifth-year option or not.
- May 3-6, 2019 - Teams may elect to hold their 3-day rookie minicamp either Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday.
- May 10-13, 2019 - The other option for teams to elect to hold their 3-day rookie minicamp, again either Friday-Sunday or Saturday-Monday. Only one 3-day rookie minicamp may be held.
- May 13, 2019 - Rookie Football Development Program begins.
- May 16-19, 2019 - NFLPA Rookie Premiere.
- May 20, 2019 - Phase Three of offseason program begins.
Phase Three of the NFL’s offseason program is the final phase, four weeks in length, during which teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity (“OTAs”). Although live contact is prohibited, 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
- Mid-late June - Teams break for “offseason” ahead of training camp.
- Mid-July - Training Camp opens.
The dates for training camp haven’t been officially announced (and won’t be for some time), but the general rule is that veterans (excluding quarterbacks and 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.
- August 1, 2019 - Hall of Fame Game.
The official start of the 2019 NFL Preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame game on August 1st.
- August 31, 2019, 4PM ET - Teams must reduce their rosters to 53 players.
- September 1, 2019, 12PM ET - Waiver claims process.
- September 5, 2019 - Regular season Week 1 kicks off with Thursday Night Football.
We’ll have plenty of coverage here at Music City Miracles to help get you through the long offseason, with plenty of fun events along the way.