NFL Key Offseason Dates

By Matt Jergensen

As they prepare for the 2013 season over the next few months, here’s a look at some of the key dates to keep in mind:

(Note: Some of the dates for team activities like minicamp and training camp have yet to be announced).

Feb. 18: Teams Can Begin Applying Franchise Tag
Teams can begin applying the franchise tag next week. Most teams don’t use the one-year tender right away, and instead try to work out long-term deals with key players before applying the tag.

Feb. 20-26: National Scouting Combine – Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
The combine in Indianapolis is a chance for executives across the NFL to get a look at the incoming crop of talent. College football’s top prospects will be tested, questioned and examined in a pivotal week for each team’s scouting department.

March 1: College Pro Days Begin
Outside of the national scouting combine, college pro days give NFL scouts a chance to get a closer look at incoming prospects. The college pro days begin March 1 and last throughout the month. NFL.com has a full listing of all the currently scheduled pro days.

March 4: Deadline To Apply Franchise Tender
If the Ravens haven’t worked out a long-term deal with quarterback Joe Flacco by this point, they will have to apply the one-year franchise tender to the Super Bowl MVP.

March 9-11: Teams Allowed To Begin Free Agent Contract Negotiations
This is a new addition to the league calendar, as it will allow teams and unrestricted free agents to begin contract talks before the official start of the league season. The three-day window was added this season in an effort to prevent tampering between teams and agents before the official start of the league year.

March 12 (Prior to 4 p.m.): Teams Must Get Under Salary Cap, Exercise Restricted Free Agent Options
By the time the new season opens, NFL clubs need to exercise the options on all of their restricted free agents. The list of restricted free agents for the Ravens includes tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson who could garner a high tender offer. As part of the new league season, all 32 teams must also be under the $121 million salary cap.

March 12 (After 4 p.m.): Free Agency Opens
Unrestricted free agents are able to sign with new teams starting immediately at 4 p.m. With the three days in advance to negotiate player contracts, there could likely be a flurry of players who sign with new teams as soon as the league year opens.

March 17-20: Annual League Meetings – Phoenix, Arizona
Owners and league officials will meet to discuss a variety of NFL issues, including possible rules changes.

March 23-24: Regional Combine – Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills
This event is for college graduates and former NFL players in the area who were not invited to the national scouting combine.

April 25-26: NFL Draft – New York City
The first round of the NFL Draft will take place Thursday night, followed by the second and third rounds Friday, and rounds 4-7 on Saturday. The Ravens have the 32nd overall pick in the draft.

Aug. 4: Preseason Begins
The preseason will begin with the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The two teams have yet to be announced.

Sept 5: Regular Season Begins
The opener will be played in Baltimore with the champion Ravens taken on an opponent TBD.


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