This time of year always offers hope to those franchises who didn’t win the Super Bowl in January. The NFL offseason is a time for teams to lock up positions of need and strengthen others to keep up with their rivals. That process begins at the Senior Bowl and ends at the beginning of preseason in early August. While the pandemic will certainly play a role in how everything shakes out, below is a list of important dates (some of which exact dates are still unknown).
Important Dates to Know
March/April — The NFL Combine is generally the biggest moment in-between the Super Bowl and the draft. This year everyone should expect several differences due to the pandemic. There will be no in-person workouts, with players running drills at their college’s pro days, and interviews will take place 100% virtually.
March 1 — Deadline day for all eligible college players to notify the NFL Player Personnel department of their intent to forgo the 2021 NFL Draft and return to school.
March 9 — The last day for teams to successfully apply the franchise tag: The window to begin applying franchise or transition tags opens February 23 and closes March 9.
March 15 — Free agency “legal tampering” period: For 48 hours, it is considered legal for teams to contact free agents. However, teams are not allowed to formally sign anyone until the new league year begins on the 17th.
March 17 — New league year begins. Free agency officially opens. All agreed-upon trades can now also be accepted.
April 29 – May 1 — NFL Draft: Washington holds the 19th overall pick.
Early May — (Dates TBD): The three-day period teams are allowed to have organized activities with their newest draftees and undrafted free agents.
Late May (Dates TBD): Organized Team Activities (OTAs). This will be the first time the complete roster is allowed to practice together. OTAs are considered optional, and there is no guarantee they will even have them during the pandemic.
July 15 — Franchise Tag Deadline: At 4 p.m. EST, teams must either come to a long-term contract agreement with their franchise-tagged player, or the player can only sign a one-year contract with the team.
Mid-July (Dates TBD) — Training Camp begins: Veterans report 15 days prior to the team’s first preseason game. Rookies can report up to a week earlier than veterans.
August 5 — NFL preseason begins with the Hall of Fame game. Last year all of these festivities were canceled, along with the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony for each of the new inductees.
September 9 — The NFL will kick off the 2021 regular season on Thursday, September 9.