With the 2018 NFL season now a week in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look forward into the offseason abyss. It’s not all bad news, however. The NFL, more so than any other professional sports league, knows how to sell their offseason to a point where the eight-month gap between games doesn’t even seem that long.
This feels like a particularly important offseason for the Detroit Lions. After a big step back in 2018, head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn are running out of time to win over the Lions fanbase. And with some of their better players (Darius Slay, Matthew Stafford, Damon Harrison Sr.) getting older, the time is now for the Lions to make a move. The next three months are absolutely key for Detroit to become competitive again.
So to help you navigate through the next important dates and events in the NFL calendar, here is our offseason guide.
12: CFL signing day
At noon ET, NFL teams are free to sign any CFL players whose contracts have expired in 2019.
19: Franchise Tag opens
Starting on Feb. 19, teams can designate players with a franchise or transition tag.
26 - March 4: NFL Scouting Combine
The biggest event remaining before the NFL Draft in April, the NFL Combine has become a huge spectacle. Some of the best talent the 2019 NFL Draft will have to offer (see a list of the 338 invitees here) will travel down to Indianapolis to show off their athletic traits and work on drills in front of representatives for all 32 teams.
5: Franchise Tag deadline
If a team plans on using the franchise tag, it must be designated by March 5 at 4 p.m. ET.
11-13: Free agency tampering period
Teams will be able to negotiate with agents (not the players themselves) of players that will be unrestricted free agents
13: Restricted free agency tender deadline
By 4 p.m. ET, teams must offer restricted free agency tenders to their own players, or they will become unrestricted free agents.
13: FREE AGENCY
Starting at 4 p.m. ET, teams may official sign any players that have become unrestricted free agents.
17: Stafford roster bonus
Matthew Stafford is due a fully guaranteed $5.5 million roster bonus.
24-27: League meetings
15: Offseason workouts
Teams may begin offseason workouts with strict limitations on what kind of activities are allowed. (Teams with new head coaches can start on April 1.)
Mid-month: NFL schedule released
There’s no official date yet, but previous schedule releases happened on the 19th, 20th, 14th, 21st, 23rd and 18th.
19: Restricted free agent deadline
RFAs with offer sheets must sign the tender by April 19.
25-27: NFL DRAFT
Teams can select from three different dates to hold their three-day rookie minicamp: May 3-5, May 4-6 or May 10-13.
May 20: Spring league meetings
Late May/early June: Organized Team Meetings (OTAs)
Starting sometime in late May, teams are permitted to have three sets of OTAs—10 days total. Practices are non-contract, but resemble more traditional practices (seven-on-sevens, 11-on-11s).
15: Franchise tag deadline
Teams have until July 15 to sign a franchise tagged player to a long-term deal. If a contract is not signed, the player must either sign the franchise tag or sit out the season.
Mid/Late July: TRAINING CAMP
1: Hall of Fame Game
All month: Preseason
31: Roster cut-down day
By 4 p.m. ET, all 32 teams must be down to a 53-man roster.
8-9: Week 1 of the regular season
We made it!