The dead period in the NFL offseason is coming to an end today as the NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Shortly after the Combine ends free agency will get underway, followed by the 2020 NFL draft. To help you keep track of what will be happening over the next few months when Joe Douglas and staff will begin the crucial project of upgrading the low talent level on the New York Jets, here’s a quick guide to key dates in the process.
February 24 through March 2: The NFL Combine takes place. About 300 draft eligible players will descend on Indianapolis to be measured, weighed, timed, poked, prodded, interviewed, and put through various drills. This is the last major source of new information for teams putting together their draft boards. The NFL Combine has a new schedule this year that will feature three nights of prime-time workouts. Teams will be limited to 45 formal interviews with players this year, down from 60 in the past. The interview have been increased in length, from 15 to 18 minutes.
February 25: First day that teams can apply franchise or transition tags. These tags keep pending free agents in house until they can be re-signed, traded, or allowed to sign with other teams.
March 10: Last day for teams to designate a franchise or transition tag player.
March 16: The NFL’s “legal tampering” period begins. Although the new league year doesn’t begin until 4 p.m. EDT on March 18, and until then pending free agents are still under contract, NFL teams are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who are slated to become unrestricted free agents with the start of the new league year.
March 18: The new league year begins and NFL free agency is officially underway at 4 p.m. EDT. Prior to this date and time many rumors of free agent signings around the NFL will be reported, but they won’t become official until 4 p.m. EDT on March 18.
March 29 through April 1: The NFL’s Annual League Meetings in Palm Beach, Florida take place.
April 6: Teams that have hired a new head coach may begin their voluntary organized team activities (OTAs).
April 20: Teams with returning head coaches may begin OTAs.
Mid-April: The NFL will release the 2020 regular season schedule.
April 23 through April 25: The NFL draft takes place.
April 27: First day NFL teams can sign XFL players.
May 1-4 and May 8-11: Teams may hold one rookie minicamp, over a maximum of three days, during one of these weekends.
July 15: The final day for a franchise- or transition-tagged player to sign a multi-year contract. After this point, such players can only play under a one-year contract and can’t return to the negotiating table until after the season.
Aug. 6: NFL football returns as the 2020 NFL pre-season will get underway with the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.