2019 NFL offseason key dates
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.