If you are going to be a serious NFL betting player, you need to know that the action does not stop after the Super Bowl, nor does it start in Week 1. There is a lot to go through in the offseason as teams reload and make some changes for the season, and here are a few of the dates that you need to know. These dates are specifically for the 2017 offseason, but everything happens around the same time, basically every year.
February 15th – March 1st: Teams can give players the franchise tag, which is when a team can put a player under contract for one year after their contract is up, and teams can only use it on one player. It is also the first day for the transition tag, which cannot be used if the franchise tag is used, and this is when a team has the right of first refusal on a player, meaning they can match an offer sheet from another team.
February 28th – March 6th: The NFL combine takes place in Indianapolis (where it takes place every year). The combine is where those looking to get drafted show off their skills, run drills, lift weights and teams can get all of the measurable information they need to make their picks.
March 7th : Teams can start talking to unrestricted free agents, but they cannot sign them until March 9th, which is when the free-agency period officially begins. There has been a lot of talk over this two-day grace period, which means handshake agreements are fine, but nothing is set in stone. This means anything can still happen.
March 9th – This marks the official start of the league year, which means contracts can be signed, teams need to figure out the options on whatever players have them, they can submit offer sheets for restricted free agents.
March 26th - March 29th: The annual league meeting in Phoenix, which is where the owners and other executive groups get together to talk about and vote on potential rules, and anything else that is happening in the league. Golf also gets played and potential trades are discussed, much like the annual league meetings in all the other leagues.
April 3rd: If you are a team with a new head coach, you are allowed to begin your offseason workouts.
April 17th: If you are a team with a returning head coach, this is when you are allowed to begin your offseason workouts. Football is a complicated sport, so it is only right that new head coaches are given a little more time to get used to their new organizations, which is more than the players.
April 21st: The last day that restricted free agents can sign offer sheets that they receive.
April 27th – April 29th: The NFL Draft takes place on these days in Philadelphia, so teams will pick from the best of the best in terms of potential rookies. Players have to be out of high school for at least three years in order to be drafted. There are 32 picks for each round, of which there are seven, and teams can trade picks to move around the draft, or use them to get a player from another team.
May 5th – May 8th, May 12th – May 15th: There are two three-day windows for teams to hold rookie minicamps, which is more in-depth workouts for the players now that they’re on a team. Really, it is just the players getting to know their new organizations, and vice versa.
May 15th, May 18th – May 21st: The rookie development program starts on the 15th, and then there is a Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles held by the NFL Players Association, which has taken great steps in the last few years to try and get rookies ready for the league.
June: Mandatory minicamps are held by the teams, and the dates will vary, so keep an eye out for the teams you are most interested in. These are also good to watch, because players in contract disputes could skip them.
June 1st: The “June 1 tender” allows teams to keep right of first refusal on an unrestricted free agent who has received a qualifying offer from another team.
June 15th – Teams can take back a qualifying offer from a restricted free agent, but still have negotiation rights with the player, who cannot talk to other teams.
July: Training camp starts for teams and again, the dates will vary.
July15th – This is the last day for players under the franchise tag to reach a long-term deal with their team. If they do not, the player can only sign a one-year deal and it cannot be extended until following the final game of the regular season.
August 3rd – August 5th: The 3rd is the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, and the 5th is the enshrinement ceremony. The following week is the start of the preseason, so this is the last big event of the preseason.