Every-Thing Sports

2019 NFL offseason key dates

NFL.com

Super Bowl 53 has come and gone. No matter how bad, or good, we all thought of the game (and the halftime show as well), it's over and so is the 2018-19 NFL season. However, fear not football junkies, there are still points of interest for you to pay attention to when it comes to getting your football fix.

The slates have been wiped clean and the offseason is upon us. If your team has any chance of making a run in the 2019-20 season, here are several key dates to pay attention to:

February 26-March 4 The Scouting Combine: Affectionately known as "The Underwear Olympics," this is where future prospects can either mak, or lose themselves money. Whether it's through medicals examinations, interviews, or drills, draft prospects can lose draft positioning due to the results of things that occur off the field of play.

March 5 Franchise/transition Tag Deadline: This is the last date in which teams can apply either of these tags to players. Typically, players with these tags stay with their teams. However, if they move via trade, it means the team losing the player gets compensation.

March 13 Free Agency and trading period begins: This is the first day teams can sign unrestricted and/or restricted free agents to contracts and trade for players under contracts with other teams. Free agency is often done in waves. The first few days are when the bulk of the bigger deals are done.

April 25-27 The Draft: The NFL Draft is one of the biggest events of any professional sports offseasons. It startswith primetime airing of the first round, then the second and third rounds air the following day with the fourth through seventh rounds the day after. This is often times seen as the crown jewel of the offseason.

July 15 Franchise Tag Signing Deadline: If a team has given a player the Franchise Tag, this is the last date in which said player can sign a long-term deal with that team. If a long-term deal isn't signed by this date, the player can only sign a one year deal under franchise tag label with said team.

Mid to Late July Reporting for Training Camp: While the dates vary per team, most will report somewhere between July 22-31. The date typically corresponds with the first preseason game. This is why teams playing in the Hall of Fame Game report earlier since they have a fifth preseason game scheduled earlier than other teams.

August 31 Cut Down to 53-Man Roster: Teams must cut their preseason rosters down to 53 by 4pm Eastern Time. The interesting part here is that some good veteran players will be cut in favor of younger, and often cheaper, players. This allows the roster to be reshaped last-minute in some rare cases.

September 5 Thursday Night Opener: The date that most football fans are dying to get to is the kickoff special. This is the date in which the New England Patriots will host an opponent to start the new regular season schedule. All other teams will play on September 8 and 9.

There are other key dates that some of the more hardcore fans may want to pay attention to and here's a link to the NFL Operations page that lists the key offseason dates in greater detail. I know most fans are casual and won't give a damn about any of this. But there are a special bunch of us that need to feed our insatiable appetites for all things football until we get the real deal to return. This was a great season. While it may not have ended like many of us wanted it to, it was a season that was thoroughly enjoyed by most fans. This is the time of year when nearly every team's fanbase can claim to have a shot next season. Here's to renewed hope and the thought of having bragging rights for at least one season.

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The power struggle continues. Photo by Getty Images.

Boy, with the recent blizzard of negative publicity – searing magazine cover stories with headlines blasting "Houston Has a Problem" and "The Chaplain Who Won a Power Struggle and Plunged a Franchise into Chaos" – I'll bet the Houston Texans wished they had a seasoned, respected and award-winning media director to handle damage control.

Oh yeah, that's exactly what they had in Amy Palcic, but she was fired last year. Reason: she "wasn't the right culture fit."

What exactly is the Houston Texans culture these days? Apparently the culture is players disliking and distrusting the team executive specifically charged with managing the team's culture. It's that same executive whose resume has more fudging than the Keebler Cookie Company. It's that executive who's accused of authorizing illegal practices and hiring private eyes to follow players in their private activities. It's that executive who's accused of intimidating employees who trash him to the media and threatening to sue media outlets. It's that executive who imposes his religious fervor on lower-ranked employees. It's that executive who has created a culture where gifted quarterback Deshaun Watson is said to want a trade out of Houston.

That executive is Jack Easterby - the backstabbing, butt-smooching BS'er who seems to have a Svengali hold on Texans chairman Cal McNair.

If it comes down to one stays and one has to go between Watson and Easterby … hmmm, let's see. Deshaun Watson threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. Jack Easterby, zero and zero.

Last week, Texans legend Andre Johnson, who usually speaks up less than the magician Teller, tweeted: "Since Jack Easterby walk into the building nothing good has happened. For some reason someone can't seem to see what's going on. Pathetic!!!"

That "someone" would be Texans chairman Cal McNair, who continues to support Easterby despite all the accusations and revelations hurled Easterby's way.

By the way, Easterby has not sued any media outlet that is publishing stories about his bullying and sneakiness. And he won't sue because that last thing he wants is to be put in a witness chair and swear to tell the truth.

In the past 12 months, with Easterby sticking his nose in McNair's ear, the Texans have managed to alienate and infuriate superstar Watson: trade All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins and create a losing, uninspired clubhouse that has favorite son J.J. Watt wanting a trade to leave his beloved Houston.

It's not like Easterby is some mad genius who somehow produces spectacular results despite his unorthodox tactics. The Texans finished 2020 with a disastrous 4-12 record, with little to show for it, not even a top draft pick to honor their futility. The Texans are clearly in need of divine intervention, and not from huckster Easterby, whose degree is in sports management from Newberry College. Easterby is only dimples and wavy hair short of being a TV preacher.

You can't deny that Easterby is inspiration. He recently inspired a public protest on the sidewalk outside NRG Stadium and signs swaying over Southwest Freeway with the same message: #FireJackEasterby. Watson asked his supporters not to attend the rally due to COVID precaution.

Then there's the case of Deshaun Watson v. Cal McNair.

Watson was born into an economically disadvantaged family and has worked for, and deserves, every penny he is paid. He is a champion.

Cal McNair found the Houston Texans under his Christmas tree in 2018 after his father Texans original owner Bob McNair died.

Watson is an extremely bright and sensitive man who is deeply involved in social issues off the field. Last year, during the summer of racial upheaval in America, he led the charge to have the name of a former slave owner removed from a building on his alma mater Clemson's campus.

McNair hardly ever speaks in public and his stumbling, confused performance at a press conference to announce the hire of general manager Nick Caserio showed why. It's rare when a team owner has to apologize after making what should have been a happy statement promising fans a better future. However, if a stage production of the Beverly Hillbillies ever goes to Broadway, we've got our Jethro.

Many times when a player gets into a public spat with a team owner, it's a dumb jock player vs. the super-smart businessman who owns a billion-dollar company. It's usually over money. And the public typically thinks, "just get rid of the ungrateful, overpaid and greedy player."

Not this time. Watson already got his – four years at $156 million. This is a war of morality. Watson is the hero here, McNair the fool being played by Easterby, who like Cassius is Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, "has a lean and hungry look."

If it came to a public vote between Watson and McNair (Easterby), Watson's landslide win would rival Kim Jong-Un in North Korea … or LeAnn Rimes on The Masked Singer.

It's unfair to call McNair and Easterby polarizing figures because polarizing implies that there are two sides to the issue.

There is only one side. Houston loves Deshaun Watson and wants McNair to sell the team, right after he fires Easterby.

Seemingly the only defender rushing to Easterby's side is a Twitter account allegedly owned by Easterby under a fake name. If it is a burner account, Easterby has a whole lot of faith in himself.

Although football insiders say that Watson is all but out the door at NRG Stadium, there is still a chance that McNair could save the day, and do what is needed to keep Watson in Texans' gear. And that would be to fire Easterby. Now.

Sadly, given McNair's repeated pledges of loyalty to Easterby and insistence that criticism of Easterby is unwarranted, Watson's leaving Houston gets more likely each day. Andre Johnson had it right … "pathetic!!!"

Three exclamation points.

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