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…