With just two weeks’ worth of games left in the 2014 NFL regular season, we’re only 11 days away from the offseason getting underway for 20 of the league’s 32 teams. As such, it’s worth looking ahead to the offseason calendar – which the NFL released yesterday (PDF link) – for an idea of which dates will be more important over the next several weeks and months. With clubs preparing to make changes to front offices, coaching staffs, and rosters, there are plenty of days to circle on the calendar.
Here’s a breakdown of a few of the NFL’s key offseason dates and deadlines:
December 29: Teams may begin signing players to reserve/futures contracts for the 2015 season. Teams may also begin exercising fifth-year options on 2012 first-round picks and signing 2012 draftees to contract extensions.
January 4: Assistant coaches for playoff teams with byes can interview for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.
January 11: Assistant coaches for Wild Card teams that won their first round games can interview for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the divisional playoff games.
January 24: Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
January 25: Assistant coaches for teams in the Super Bowl who have previously interviewed for a head coaching job, can interview a second time with the club no later than the Sunday before the Super Bowl.
February 2: 2015 waiver system begins.
February 10: As of 11:00am central time, NFL teams can sign players whose 2014 CFL contracts have expired.
February 16: First day for teams to designate a franchise or transition player.
February 17-23: The NFL scouting combine will be held in Indianapolis.
March 2: As of 3pm CT, teams can no longer designate a franchise or transition player.
March 7: First day for teams to contact agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents on March 10. Free agent contracts can’t be signed yet, but informal agreements can be reached.
March 10: The 2015 league year begins, and free agency opens. By 3pm CT, teams must make decisions on player options, submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents, submit minimum tenders to exclusive rights free agents, and be under the 2015 salary cap. Trades can be made after 3pm CT.
March 22-25: The NFL owners meetings will be held in Phoenix.
April 24: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
April 29: Deadline for previous club to exercise right of first refusal (ie. match offer sheets) on restricted free agents.
April 30 – May 2: The NFL draft will be held in Chicago.
May 18-20: The NFL spring meeting will be held in San Francisco.
June 1: Deadline for previous club to submit a June 1 tender to its unsigned unrestricted free agents, and to submit a June 1 tender to its unsigned restricted free agents who haven’t signed an offer sheet.
June 15: Deadline for teams to withdraw qualifying offers to their restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights via the June 15 tender.
July 15: Deadline for teams to work out multiyear contracts with free agents designated as franchise players (3pm CT).
July 22: Signing period ends for unrestricted free agents who received a June 1 tender, and for transition players with outstanding tenders. The player’s previous club retains exclusive negotiating rights from this date until Week 10 of the regular season.