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With NFL Combine complete, focus shifts to free agency

With the 2014 NFL Combine in the books, teams are set to shift their focus to free agency.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps it's because the first two weeks of 2014 were spent dealing with a coaching search, but this offseason seems to be flying by for the Detroit Lions. The NFL Combine came to a close on Tuesday, and we're actually less than two weeks away from the start of free agency. What's more, we're only 10 days away from the start of the negotiating period ("legal tampering") for free agents.

With this in mind, here are some upcoming dates worth taking note of:

March 3: Deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players

March 8: Teams can begin contract negotiations with the agents of all impending unrestricted free agents

March 11: At 4 p.m. ET, the 2014 league year officially begins, marking the start of free agency and the trading period

Teams will still be preparing for the 2014 NFL Draft during free agency by attending regional combines and pro days around the country, but free agency is the next notable offseason event. For the Lions, 21 players are scheduled to become free agents on March 11, and you can bet they will be busy trying to re-sign many of them. They will also be busy trying to bring in free agents from other teams, and they can begin negotiations with those players' agents on March 8.

Basically, we're about to enter the next phase of the offseason. The first major section of draft preparation is complete, and free agency is up next. Yes, getting ready for the 2014 NFL Draft (May 8-10) will continue to be important, but for at least the next few weeks, free agency is going to be the top concern.

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