Important 2016 NFL Offseason Dates

December 25th will likely be a little slower than the average Friday during the NFL season, but with a full slate of games on tap this weekend, players and teams can’t afford to take much of a break. Even after Christmas and New Year’s, as the 2015 season comes to an end for 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams, the league’s offseason calendar features many notable dates and deadlines almost immediately. So clubs’ to-do lists will stay full even when there are no games left on their schedules.

As such, it’s worth looking ahead to the NFL’s offseason calendar for an idea of which dates will be more important during the next several weeks and months. With teams 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 some of the NFL’s key offseason dates and deadlines:


  • January 4
    • Teams may begin exercising fifth-year options on 2013 first-round picks and signing 2013 draftees to contract extensions. Eliminated teams may also begin signing players to reserve/futures contracts for the 2016 season.
  • January 10
    • Assistant coaches for playoff teams with byes can interview for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Wild Card games.
  • January 12-13
    • A special NFL owners meeting will be held in Houston, Texas to discuss – and possibly vote on – Los Angeles relocation.
  • January 17
    • 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 18
    • Deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the 2016 NFL draft.
  • January 30
    • Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
  • January 31
    • 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 8
    • 2016 waiver system begins.
  • February 16

    • First day for teams to designate a franchise or transition player.
  • February 23-29
    • The NFL scouting combine will be held in Indianapolis.


  • March 1
    • 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 9. Free agent contracts can’t be signed yet, but informal agreements can be reached.
  • March 9
    • The 2016 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 and free agents can be signed after 3pm CT.
  • March 20-23
    • The NFL owners meetings will be held in Boca Raton, Florida.


  • April 22
    • Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
  • April 27
    • Deadline for previous club to exercise right of first refusal (ie. match offer sheets) on restricted free agents.
  • April 28-30
    • The NFL draft will be held in Chicago.


  • May 3
    • Teams exercising fifth-year options on 2013 first-round picks must do so prior to May 3.
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