Full disclosure: I rarely visit ChicagoBears.com. It used to be a vital site for post-game pressers and game highlights but there are literally dozens of better locations for both of those things now, especially the former, which now go directly from the cell phones of media members to the fans in a matter of seconds.
But in January, the site’s lead writer Larry Mayer posted a collection of pertinent off-season dates and that is something I’m constantly searching for this time of year. Here they are:
February 20: First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
February 27-March 5: NFL Scouting Combine, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana.
March 6: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
March 12-14: Beginning at 11 a.m. (CT) on March 7, 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 2017 player contracts. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 3 p.m. (CT), on March 14.
March 14: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must exercise options for 2018 on all players who have option clauses in their 2017 contracts.
March 14: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit qualifying offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 14: Prior to 3 p.m. (CT), clubs must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2017 contracts who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
March 14: Top 51 begins. All clubs must be under the 2018 salary cap prior to 3 p.m. (CT).
March 14: All 2017 player contracts will expire at 3 p.m. (CT)
March 14: The 2018 league year and free agency period begin at 3 p.m. (CT).
See the rest of the year’s dates after the jump…
March 14: The first day of the 2018 league year will end at 10:59:59 p.m. (CT), on March 14. Clubs will receive a personnel notice that will include all transactions submitted to the league office during the period between 3 p.m. and 10:59:59 p.m. (CT) on March 14.
March 14: Trading period for 2018 begins at 3 p.m. (CT) after expiration of all 2017 contracts.
March 25-28: Annual League Meeting, Orlando, Florida.
April 2: Teams with new head coaches can begin offseason workout programs.
April 16: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
April 20: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
April 26-28: 2017 NFL Draft, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
May 4-7 or 11-14: Clubs can hold three-day rookie minicamp.
May 8: Deadline for club to send “May 8 Tender” to unsigned UFAs.
May 14: Rookie Football Development Programs begin
May 17-20: NFLPA Rookie Premiere
May 21-23: Spring League Meeting (Atlanta, GA)
June 1: Deadline to send “June 1 Tender” to unsigned RFA who received a qualifying offer for right of first refusal only in order for such player to be subject to the CBS’s “June 15 Tender” provision.
June 2: 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 2019 League Year.
June 15: Deadline for club to withdraw qualifying offer to RFA and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting “June 15 Tender” of one-year contract at 110 percent of the player’s prior-year Paragraph 5 Salary (with all other terms of his prior-year contract carried forward unchanged).
Late June: Rookie Transition Program to be held at individual clubs. Attendance is mandatory for all rookies.
July 16: At 3 p.m. (CT), 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 2018 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club’s last regular season game.
Mid July: 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” (as defined in CBA Article 21, Section 6) 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. Veteran quarterbacks and injured players may be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately prior to the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players, provided the club has already opened (or simultaneously opens) its official preseason training camp for all rookies and first-year players. A three-day acclimation period will apply to players who are on a club’s roster up to and including the mandatory veteran reporting date. Players who rejoin the roster after that date may practice (including wearing pads) and play immediately after passing a physical.
July 23: Signing period ends for Unrestricted Free Agents to whom a “May 8 Tender” was made by prior club. After this date and until 3 p.m. (CT), on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, prior club has exclusive negotiating rights. * or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later.
July 23: Signing period ends for Transition Players with outstanding tenders. After this date and until 3 p.m. (CT) time, on the Tuesday following the 10th weekend of the regular season, Prior Club has exclusive negotiating rights.
August 2: Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.
August 2-5: Hall of Fame Weekend, Canton, Ohio
August 7: Deadline for players under contract to report to their clubs to earn an accrued season for free agency. If a drafted rookie has not signed with his club by this date, he cannot be traded to any other club in 2018, and may sign a player contract only with the drafting club until the day of the Draft in the 2019 League Year.
February 3, 2019: Bears win Super Bowl 53.