It looks as though the NFL's plan to overhaul its offseason calendar is moving closer to becoming a reality. Back in February, Adam Schefter reported that the NFL was talking about a possible change to the start of free agency and the dates for the combine and draft. Now it looks like some form of these changes could be coming to fruition.
NFL and NFLPA are on verge of pushing back draft to May and moving up start of league year to before combine, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 20, 2013
Ian Rapoport mentioned May 15 as the likely start date of the 2014 NFL Draft, and he says it would be a "tryout" rather than a permanent change. Because there is a scheduling conflict with Radio City Music Hall (the location of the draft) and Easter, the NFL apparently sees next year as a good time to test out holding the draft in May.
Rapoport also reports that because of logistical issues, the date of the 2014 NFL Combine is unlikely to change. However, in the future, it seems like the league is planning to have the combine take place in March. This would allow the start of the league year and free agency to take place in February. The NFL originally wanted free agency to start in April, but I don't think the NFLPA had any interest in delaying it by a month.
If the NFL does overhaul its offseason calendar, it sounds like free agency will begin 2-3 weeks after the Super Bowl. The combine will then be held a couple weeks later in March as the buzz starts to build for the draft. Then, instead of having the draft at the end of April, we'd get an extra couple of weeks to read about mock drafts before the actual event is held in May.
What's the point of these changes? Money, quite simply. Having the draft in May (during sweeps week, perhaps) could result in bigger advertising dollars, and it would keep the NFL in the news through the middle of the month. OTAs would presumably be pushed back a bit, meaning there could be stuff going on through the end of June instead of simply through mid-June. There would still be a bit of a quiet period in July before training camp begins, but as we've learned over the years, there's always seemingly something going on in the world of the NFL.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of pushing the draft back, but I like the idea of moving free agency ahead of the combine. I still would like for free agency to be held after the draft like it was in the lockout year, but it's a safe assumption that that will never happen again in a normal offseason.
What do you think of these potential changes?
UPDATE: Here are more details on the changes:
Proposed new league year would start before combine in 2015 and 2016. Change of draft to May effective in 2014.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 20, 2013