The Chicago Bears season has been over for a few weeks now, but this could be the offseason that proves to be more important than the season that preceded it.
Here are the most important dates on the NFL calendar that Bears fans and the rest of the NFL should keep an eye on. You can see the full list here.
This past Sunday – Assistant coaches under contract to playoff clubs that won their Wild Card games may be interviewed for head coaching positions through the conclusion of the Divisional Playoff games.
Yesterday – Deadline for college players that are underclassmen to apply for special eligibility. A list of players who are accepted into the NFL Draft will be sent to clubs on January 20.
January 21 – East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersberg, Fla.
- NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
January 28 – Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. (One team will be coached by John Fox and the Chicago Bears coaching staff!)
January 29 – Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. (One last chance to see Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard!)
- An assistant coach whose team is playing in the Super Bowl (who previously interviewed for a team’s head coaching job) may have a second interview with the club no later than the Sunday before the Super Bowl.
January 31 – Deadline for NFL teams to try out/negotiate with CFL players whose 2016 contracts are due to expire at 11 a.m. on Feb. 14.
February 5 – Super Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston.
February 6 – Waiver period begins.
February 14 – Starting at 11 a.m., NFL teams can sign players whose 2016 CFL contracts have expired. (Note: Players under contract to a CFL club for 2017 or who have an option for 2017 are not eligible).
February 15 – First day for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players. (This is an important date with regards to Alshon Jeffery’s future in Chicago).
February 28 to March 6 – NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
March 1 – Deadline for teams to designate Franchise or Transition players is 3 p.m.
March 7 to March 9 – Teams can begin to contact and enter contract negotiations with certified player agents whose players will become unrestricted free agents upon their deals expiring on March 9. (Note: Contracts cannot be signed with a new club until 3 p.m. on March 9).
March 9 – Teams must submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents with expiring contracts, and to whom they want to retain compensation/right of first refusal by 3 p.m.
- Teams must submit a minimum salary tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to players with expiring 2016 contracts and who have accrued fewer than three seasons of free agency credit before 3 p.m.
- All teams must be under the 2017 salary cap prior to 3p.m
- All 2016 player contracts expire at 3 p.m. and free agency begins
- The official NFL trading period begins at 3 p.m.
Get your popcorn ready because the Bears project to be active.
March 26-29 – Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.
April 3 – Teams that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2016 regular season may begin offseason workout programs. That means the Rams, Chargers, 49ers, Bills, Broncos and Jaguars can get started.
April 17 – Clubs with returning head coaches (that includes John Fox) may begin offseason workout programs.
April 21 – Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets.
April 27 to April 29 – NFL Draft in Philadelphia. The Cleveland Browns are on the clock, but the Bears pick third in the first round.
May 5 to May 8 – Teams can hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie mini-camp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.
May 12 to May 15 – Teams can hold their one three-day post-Draft rookie mini-camp from Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday. (Note: Rookie football development programs can begin May 15.)
May 18 to May 21 – NFLPA Rookie Premiere. Rookies who are typically first and/or second-round picks must be permitted by their respective clubs to attend. These players are unavailable for offseason workouts, OTA days and mini-camps during this period.
May 22 to May 24 – Spring League Meeting in Chicago.
June 15 – Deadline for teams to withdraw qualifying offer to restricted free agents and retain exclusive negotiating rights.
June, TBA – Mandatory attendance for all rookies at individual teams rookie transition program.
July 15 – Deadline for a franchise player to sign a multi-year contract or extension is set for 3 p.m. After this date, the player may only sign a one-year contract for 2017.
July 22 – Signing period for transition players ends.
July, TBA – Teams can open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club’s earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
- Veteran players (other than quarterbacks or injured players) with at least one pension-credited season can report to a team’s preseason training camp no earlier than 15 days prior to the club’s first scheduled preseason game or July 15, whichever is later.
- Veteran quarterbacks and injured players can be required to report to the club’s preseason training camp no earlier than five days immediately before the mandatory reporting date for all other veteran players.
August 3 – Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, kicking off the pre-season.
August 5 – Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.